UK HealthCare

UK Part of $11 Million Project Funded by NCI to Combat Cervical Cancer in Appalachia

Markey Cancer Center
Markey researchers are part of an $11 million project funded by the NCI to address cervical cancer burden in Appalachia.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 12, 2019) – A new public health initiative supported by $11 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute aims to address the burden of cervical cancer incidence and mortality in Appalachia. The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center, in partnership with NCI-designated cancer center at The Ohio State University and University of Virginia, along with investigators at West Virginia University, is collaborating on a project that will involve 10 health systems in the Appalachian region.

This region – including the Appalachian areas of Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia – is home to some of the highest rates of cervical cancer incidence and death in the country. While the increased usage of Pap smears and HPV vaccination have helped reduce overall cervical cancer rates over the past 40 years, a combination of factors in this region – smoking, HPV infection and lack of cervical cancer screening – have led to a higher-than-average cancer burden.

At UK, investigators will be implementing three separate projects to directly address the problem:

  • Effectiveness of a multi-level smoking cessation program adapted for high-risk women in rural communities.  The primary aim of this project is to successfully apply an effective smoking cessation intervention in health systems in rural Appalachian regions in four different states (Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia). This intervention would be directed at women smokers and will include a multi-level intervention to be provided by trained clinic staff. This project is led by Jessica Burris, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UK College of Arts & Sciences and member of the Markey Cancer Prevention and Control Program
  • Testing Multi-Level Interventions to Improve HPV Vaccination.  This project seeks to improve HPV vaccination rates in the target age group (11-12 years old) as well as those eligible for catch-up vaccination (13-26 years old). The project will feature a comic book intervention and clinic champions. This project is led by Mark Dignan, Ph.D., professor in the UK College of Medicine and co-leader of the Markey Cancer Prevention and Control Program.
  • A Multilevel HPV Self-Testing Intervention to Increase Cervical Cancer Screening among Women in Appalachia. The objective of Project 3 is to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of a mail-based HPV self-testing kit among women, who are currently unscreened or underscreened. The aims are to determine the effectiveness of the intervention in increasing cervical cancer screening; assess the feasibility, fidelity, sustainability and cost effectiveness of the intervention; and determine satisfaction with the intervention at the patient, provider, and systems level. This project will also be led by Dignan.

“This project is a rare opportunity for NCI-designated cancer centers at UK, OSU and UVA, in collaboration with WVU, to focus on one of the most preventable cancers in our region of Appalachia,” Dignan said. “ The collaboration among these NCI-designated cancer centers will provide the opportunity to leverage center expertise and shared resource facility support and produce a project better able to reach the population than any of the partners could produce alone.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion two years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. The Chronicle of Higher Education judged us a “Great College to Work for," and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for three straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.