Category Archives: Outreach

Cancer on the Decline in South Carolina

A recent report by the South Carolina Cancer Alliance (SCCA) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC) announced that cancer mortality rates in South Carolina have declined by 17.6% in the past 20 years.  According to the report, the most prevalent cancers in our state are: lung cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer.

Cancer specialists contribute the decline in cancer mortality rates to primary prevention strategies such as decreasing the prevalence of smoking, early detection and improved cancer treatments.

Although specific risk factors are relative to specific types of cancers, general risk factors include:

  • tobacco usage,
  • being overweight, and
  • an unbalanced diet.

It is important to understand that although cancer mortality rates have declined, health disparities still exist among minority populations and in rural communities. More than 26,000 people are diagnosed with an invasive cancer and nearly 10,000 people die from cancer each year.

“We are moving in the right direction for a state our size, but we are still behind the rest of the country,” said Dr. Gerald Wilson, chair of the South Carolina Cancer Alliance. “The best course of action people can take is to speak with their doctors about cancer screenings and lifestyle changes.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in South Carolina and ranks 1st for cancer deaths.
  • The rate of all cancers in women increased by 5.5%.
  • The death rate for black women with breast cancer is 43.5% higher than for white women.
  • Skin cancer increases of 21.2% among white men and 24.6% among white women mirror national trends.
  • The death rate for black men with prostate cancer is three times higher than white men.

For more information or to view the full report, visit:  https://www.sccancer.org/media/1348/20-year-cancer-report_spread-w-bleed.pdf.

DHEC In the News: Hepatitis A Vaccinations, Back-to-School Vaccinations, DHEC Receives Grant for Congenital Heart Defects Studies

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

 

DHEC wants high-risk groups to get hepatitis A vaccine

CAMDEN, S.C. (Chronicle-Independent.com) The hepatitis A outbreak in South Carolina is driven by infections among people in high-risk groups, and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is asking organizations and individuals who serve those populations to help prevent a more serious outbreak that could affect the general public.

 

DHEC encourages parents to get students vaccinated now in preparation for school

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WYFF.com) The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a reminder for parents Monday to vaccinate their children before the school year begins, saying it’s one of the most important items on a child’s back-to-school list.

 

DHEC and partners awarded $2 million national grant for congenital heart defects studies

CHARLESTON, S.C. (MoultrieNews.com) The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control along with several partners are one of six groups in the nation to be awarded a $2 million grant for studying how congenital heart defects impact patients throughout their lives and identifying ways to support impacted families.

From Other Blogs: Treating Minor Burns, Summer Safety, and Preventing Swimmer’s Ear

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

How to Treat a Minor Burn

We have all done it – remembered to put sunscreen on the kids but not on ourselves. Or thought the cookie sheet pan was cool when it wasn’t. All ending in a burn.  Prisma Health Nurse Practitioner Katie Schill said most burns will resolve in 1–2 weeks with some at-home treatment.

– From Flourish, Prisma Health’s Blog

 

Six Ways to Ruin Your Summer Fun!

Ahhh, summer… when the weather’s nice, the birds are singing and the ways to endanger your health are many. Here are six things that can ruin your summer fun and simple steps that you can take to prevent them from happening. – From Public Health Matters, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Blog

 

How to prevent and treat swimmer’s ear

Summer is a great time for fun in the water, unless you end up with swimmer’s ear, a common type of outer ear infection.  Prisma Health Nurse Practitioner Katie Schill said, “Despite its name, swimmer’s ear is not necessarily caused by swimming. It’s caused by any introduction of bacteria into the ear canal. This can happen by scratching the ear canal when removing wax or just scratching an itchy ear.”  To prevent swimmer’s ear, Katie offers this advice. – From Flourish, Prisma Health’s Blog

Today is Heatstroke Prevention Day

Summer is about to reach its peak, but temperatures are still soaring.  Take the time to protect yourself and your loved ones from extreme heat.  Today is Heatstroke Prevention Day.  Do you know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat_Illness

Follow these tips from Ready.gov for protecting yourself in extreme heat:

  • Find air conditioning.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Watch for heat illness.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Check on family members and neighbors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car.

Did you know that 21 young children have died in hot cars so far in 2019?  A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.  Make sure your child is never left alone in a car.  If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved.  Call 911 immediately.  If the child seems hot or sick, try to get them out of the vehicle as soon as possible.  For more car safety tips for children, visit www.kidsandcars.org.

For more information about heat related illnesses, visit https://scdhec.gov/heat-related-illnesses.

South Carolina Health at a Glance: Maternal and Infant Health

Our next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summaries covers maternal and infant health.  Because the document is 346 pages, we will summarize each section.  Check out our previous posts:  overview of the report, South Carolina demographics, leading causes of death and hospitalization, cross-cutting, and access to healthcare.

Infant Mortality

The five leading causes of infant death in South Carolina were:

  • Birth defects (85%)
  • Preterm birth and low birthweight (14.2%)
  • Unintentional injuries (9.7%)
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (6.7%)
  • Maternal complication of pregnancy (5.0%).

Targeted education and interventions focused on infant death prevention and contributing factors helps to reach audiences in greatest need.  Although the infant mortality rate decreased from 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 7.0 deaths in 2016, this rate is higher than the national infant mortality rate and the Healthy People 2020 targeted goal.

Infant Mortality_SC Health Assessment

Birth Defects

Babies affected by birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term physical, cognitive, and social challenges.  Families affected by birth defects often deal with complex medical conditions that require surgery and early intervention services within the first three years of life.  Approximately 8,074 birth defects were reported in South Carolina from 2009-2015.  Birth defect types include:  cardiovascular, central nervous system, chromosomal, orofacial, musculoskeletal, renal, genital, gastrointestinal, limb defects, and eye and ear defects.

Strategies to prevent birth defects include maintaining a healthy diet and consuming at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, regularly visiting a healthcare provider for chronic disease management and infection prevention, and avoiding exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is the live birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chances of having health problems in the short-term and long-term for the newborn.  These health problems can include respiratory distress, bleeding of the brain, anemia, or other health issues.

In 2016, preterm birth in South Carolina was higher than the United States.  The percent of preterm birth increased as the age of the mother increased.  Approximately 14.7% of non-Hispanic Black women experienced preterm births.

Preterm birth_SC Health assessment

Low Birthweight

Low birthweight is the birth of a baby weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces.  Although some low birthweight babies are healthy, others may require special care at birth due to respiratory distress, intestinal complications, bleeding of the brain, or other health problems.  Babies born at a low birthweight also have increased risk for developing chronic health conditions later in life.

Low Birthweight_SC Health Assessment

Teen Birth

The birth rate for teenagers aged 15 to 19 has continuously declined since 1991, reaching historic lows across the United States.  Success in the decline may be attributed to increased access to long-acting reversible contraception, delayed onset of sexual activity, and effective abstinence education.  Although the teen birth rate has declined significantly from 2007 to 2016, South Carolina’s teen birth rate is higher than national rate.

Teen birth_SC Health assessment

For more information about South Carolina maternal health statistics on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), intended pregnancy, prenatal care, breastfeeding, and pregnancy-related death, read the full Maternal and Infant Health chapter of the 2018 State Health Assessment.