Seeing this article on improving cancer control in rural communities on the NCI website today, made me decide it was time to post on my blog an article I wrote in 2008 for CR, the precursor to Cancer Today.
It’s nearly a decade later, but the issues remain the same.
The Culture and Cancer of Rural Poverty
Nowhere in America is the connection between rural poverty and cancer as clear-cut as in Appalachia
When Bruce Behringer gave a presentation on cancer last year, he began by telling a story. It started with the number 44.
“This,” the cancer researcher said, “was our state’s ranking in cancer incidence from 2000 to 2004.” Behringer, who is the executive director of the Office of Rural and Community Health and Community Partnerships at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, then showed the number 20. “And this,” he said, “is where we were in 2005.”
But just as Behringer’s audience began to consider this dramatic jump in the state’s cancer diagnosis ranking, an even more alarming number appeared in his next Powerpoint slide: six. “This,” he intoned, “was our state’s ranking in cancer mortality from 2000 to 2004.”
Finally, Behringer showed the number three. “Folks,” he said, “this is not the University of Tennessee’s football ranking. And it’s not the Lady Vols’ rank in basketball. We were No. 3 in the country in cancer mortality in 2005. And that’s not where we want to be.”