“I can’t wait.” That’s the theme the World Hepatitis Alliance has chosen for World Hepatitis Day, July 28. The intent is to highlight the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis, the importance of testing and treatment, and to amplify the voices of people affected by calling for immediate action and the end of stigma and discrimination.
In our state, we declare that South Carolina Can’t Wait!
The data included in this report summarized 20 years of population-based state cancer reporting between 1996 and 2015. It included information by mortality and relative survival for the major cancers occurring in the Palmetto State, plus all cancers combined, providing a data-driven foundation to guide statewide cancer prevention and control efforts.
With 20 years of high-quality, a major focus of this report was on trends over time. Disparities in the occurrence of cancer is a major concern, so breaking down the data by gender and by racial or ethnic group is a key step to track progress in addressing cancer disparities.
While overall the report revealed favorable downward trends, the data also revealed areas that require renewed efforts. These areas include slightly increased rates of lung cancer and breast cancer in females, the pronounced increase in rates of melanoma of the skin, and the that the burden of cancer is highest among the state’s African American men.
Cancer in African American Men in South Carolina Report
In response to the 20-Year Trends Report, SC Central Cancer Registry, South Carolina Cancer Alliance, and Division of Cancer Prevention and Control developed the Cancer in African American Men in South Carolina Report in 2019 noting African American men experience substantially higher rates of cancer incidence and mortality compared to other population groups. It was the first SC-based publication produced that focused on the factors contributing to these specific disparities.
The report addressed the issue and supports the urgent need to address cancer disparities and to ensure that statewide cancer prevention and control efforts focus on this priority population. The report and the supplemental material were structured to provide:
Data that supports the cancer incidence, mortality, and survival disparities in African American men,
Supporting factors contributing to the fundamental causes of cancer in African American men as defined in the socioecological framework, and
Evidence-based recommendations for action.
As a result of the Cancer in African American Men in South Carolina Report, the South Carolina Cancer Alliance created the Health Equity Project with grant money from the CDC and private funding. The Project provided grants for organizations to improve health equity in South Carolina. Applicants’ goals and objectives were to align with those of the 20-Year Trends Report, Cancer in African American in South Carolina Report, and Healthy People 2030.
In 2020, six grants were awarded for initiatives that implemented over 80 patient and provider educational events, 55 educational training sessions for African American males, and three healthcare providers who established policies to help increase cancer screening referrals targeted African American males.
As a follow up to the Cancer in African American Report, the SC Cancer Alliance and the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health released a data brief highlighting the burden of cancer on African American men in June 2021. The South Carolina Cancer Alliance utilized the data from the SCCCR and recommendations outlined in the data brief in the request for funding from the South Carolina General Assembly.
Recommendations Moving Forward
With the $500,000 recently awarded by the General Assembly, the SC Cancer Alliance will implement three of the four recommendations outlined in the Data Brief-Cancer in African American Men.
Improve access to screening services and early detection care by expanding safety net programs. Expansion of safety net screening and early detection programs results in earlier identification of cancer, timely access to treatments, and lower mortality rates.
The Alliance will offer providers grants to providers to develop stop-gap funds to increase cancer screening in men.
Engage community health workers with customized resources to target African American men to reinforce the need for ongoing screenings and early detection services. Recruiting community health workers to educate patients about their health, the need for screenings and early identification, and assisting in overcoming structural barriers is an evidence-based method to improve health outcomes.
The Alliance will implement a lay navigation program to link patients with available prevention and early detection services.
Mobilize communities to help increase cancer education and outreach efforts to targeted populations. Community engagement is imperative when connecting with African American men and addressing barriers they face when accessing cancer screening services.
The Alliance will:
Coordinate local community-based screening events to ensure screening services are optimized
Engage and mobilize community members to promote cancer prevention and early detection in designated areas determined using data from the SC Central Cancer Registry
Offer financial support to various groups to reduce structural barriers to cancer screenings
Annually educate the community on the social determinates of health and the importance of
addressing health disparities
All efforts and programs will be evaluated annually to ensure optimized outcomes and accountability.