DHEC Data Helps Cancer Screening Outreach Efforts for African American Men

In June 2022, the SC General Assembly awarded the SC Cancer Alliance $500,000 to implement recommendations outlined in the Data Brief-Cancer in African American Men report. This report was created with information from Cancer in South Carolina: 20-year Trends for Incidence, Mortality, and Survival report, a document developed by the SC Central Cancer Registry (SCCCR), South Carolina Cancer Alliance, and DHEC’s Division of Cancer Prevention. DHEC’s Office of Vital Statisticsalso provides data for the Registry.

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.

Recommendation 1

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.

Recommendation 2

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.

Recommendation 3

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.

For more information on African American Men and Cancer in SC collaborative efforts visit https://www.sccancer.org/community/education/cancer-in-african-american-men/

For more information about South Carolina Cancer Alliance, visit www.sccancer.org or call (803) 708-4732.

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DHEC Recognizes June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and DHEC is joining efforts to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease and brain health. During June, the Alzheimer’s Association is inviting people to participate in The Longest Day® on June 21. The event is held annually on the summer solstice, and The Longest Day invites participants to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s by wearing purple, fundraising, and engaging in activities that raise awareness.

Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age. Most people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older, but up to 5 percent of people with the disease have early onset Alzheimer’s, which often develops when someone is in their 40s or 50s.

More than 90,000 residents in South Carolina experience Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, according to the South Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. DHEC’s oversight of nursing homes and assisted living facilities includes support and protection for many of these residents, along with the agency’s partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, American Heart Association, and Eat Smart, Move More, SC, among others. 

Brain Health
While the importance of brain health is well known, there is still a great deal scientists and doctors don’t know about the brain. Fortunately, research is advancing, and evidence shows that people can reduce their chances of decreased brain function by adopting key heart-healthy lifestyle habits. 

Here are some steps to take to support a healthy brain: 

  • Fuel up Right and Break a Sweat! Participate in physical activity that raises your heart rate and increases your blood flow. Studies have found that physical activity reduces risk of cognitive decline. 
  • Butt out. Quit Smoking! Smoking increases your risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce risk to levels similar to those who have not smoked. 
  • Follow Your Heart! Risk factors for heart disease and stroke such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes can negatively impact your cognitive health. 
  • Protect Your Noggin! Wear a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike or motorcycle. Use seat belts or child restraint systems designed for the age of your child. 

Click here to learn more about various types of brain conditions including the signs to watch for. The conditions include mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. In general, each of these conditions can include loss of memory and largely involve, but are not limited to, residents who are 65 or older. 

Facts About Alzheimer’s: 

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for an estimated 60% to 80% of cases. 
  • More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By the year 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 13 million people. 
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.  
  • 1 in 3 Seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • 1 in 9 people age 65 and older (11.3%) has Alzheimer’s dementia. 

Source: Alzheimer’s Association  

DHEC Highlights Cancer Facts for Men’s Health Week 

To mark Men’s Health Week, DHEC is focusing on cancer screening and prevention. In 2020, cancer was the second leading cause of death in men, and one in two men will develop cancer during their lifetimes.    

Some of the cancers that most often affect men are prostate, colorectal, lung, and skin cancers. Knowing about these cancers and what you can do to help prevent them or find them early may help save your life. The Division of Cancer Prevention and Control encourages regular, on-time screenings so cancers can be found early when they are small, haven’t spread, and might be easier to treat. 

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Family Health and Fitness Day: DHEC provides ways to improve your family’s health

June 11 is Family Health & Fitness Day. This is a great reminder that eating healthy and being physically active are important for improving and maintaining overall health.  

DHEC’s Bureau of Community Nutrition Services is sharing some ideas for how you and your family can be healthier and fit today and every day. 

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DHEC Recognizes Hurricane Preparedness Week

Hurricane season incoming

Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 29 – June 4, and to help long-term care facilities prepare for an emergency, members of Public Health Preparedness and Healthcare Quality recently held the South Carolina Health Care Facility Hurricane Workshop. The workshop included several exercises and served as a time for nursing homes and community residential care facilities to learn, share, and discuss the best methods to properly prepare for the circumstances caused by hurricanes.

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