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Lack of screening and testing could lead to higher cancer rates

By Daniel Taylor, Staff Writer

Rural areas are more susceptible to cancer than pretty much anywhere else in the United States.

A study between Ohio State University and Indiana University is aimed at understanding why and what can be changed to fix this.

In Indiana, breast, colon and cervical cancer are more prevalent among the women living in rural communities. The number of women who die from such diseases is among the highest percentages in the United States. The biggest reason is the lack of screening and testing. This is caused by a variety of factors which the joint OSU and IUPUI study is hoping to better understand.

Launched this past year, the Rural Interventions for Screening Effectiveness (RISE) study aims to give women a few option with which to receive healthcare information and find out which method is most successful. From there, they will aim to change the game in rural Indiana and Ohio. They hope to find out which method works best and get it to more people. The end goal, is to decrease deaths from late-term discovery of breast, colon and cervical cancers. With a little more than a year-and-a-half remaining before the study launches into full gear, organizers are in the process of enrolling women now. The goal is to have 1,058 women between the ages of 50 and 75 enrolled in 2018. They are specifically looking for women who have never had or are overdue for breast, colon and cervical cancer screenings. They are in the process of contacting women from 32 different rural counties across Indiana and Ohio to enroll them in the RISE study.

Dr. Electra Paskett, a researcher from Ohio State and principal investigator in the RISE study, hopes this study will bring about some serious changes in rural cancer screenings.

She said they currently have 50 women enrolled, a far cry from the 1,058 they hope to get.

Getting a higher number of women will be crucial to better understanding the findings. A small sample size does not bode well for an efficient study. For women interested, the number to call to get enrolled is toll free, 877-304 – 2273.

Once enrolled in the study, women will randomly be placed into one of three groups. One group will receive an interactive DVD to help guide them through the cancer screening process. A second group will receive the DVD and be provided a healthcare navigator, a person who will help guide them through the various challenges of healthcare. The final group will receive normalized care; general information is sent in a newsletter form.

The goal is to learn which method works best, then get the method in as many homes across rural Indiana and Ohio as possible. From there, the researchers hope to see a dramatic change in cancer deaths across the area.