Education is a key component of the Georgia Cancer Center’s mission to reduce the burden of cancer in Georgia. This is why the Georgia Cancer Center's cancer-Community Awareness & Access Research Education (c-CARE) project was created in 2015 thanks to a three-year $1.74M grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (BMS Foundation).
Dr. Martha S. Tingen, principal investigator of the c-CARE program, received permission from the BMS Foundation that allowed the program to be expanded to rural counties and enroll additional participants in communities outside of Augusta-Richmond County. A total of 586 participants, 481 urban and 105 rural enrolled in the research study. A total of 61 Community Health Workers (CHWs) were trained from the respective sites (faith-based organizations, federally-qualified health centers, etc.).
The program works with minority and underserved populations in both urban and rural communities to improve cancer outcomes. To do this, the c-CARE team partner with churches, medical clinics and recreation centers in those communities to provide education to individuals and families.
Members of the c-CARE program team in collaboration with the respective site’s leadership identified community healthcare workers (CHWs) at the churches, medical clinics and recreational centers and trained them to be the facilitators of the educational modules to be delivered to their respective sites. Then, those community health workers share the information they learned with their congregations, their patients and those using the recreational centers.
These modules focus on what cancer is in general, prevention of cancer, early detection through screening, healthy behavior choices that can decrease the risk of getting cancer, available community resources, how to implement a healthy policy change (i.e. creating a smoke-free environment), and navigation to proper screenings and care if needed. For this first study, lung cancer was the primary focus.
Before the education session begins, an investigator measures each participant’s knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about cancer. Then, the same survey is given after the four educational sessions have been completed. This allows the c-CARE team to see what impact the education seminars had for each person.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends low-dose CT (LDCT) scans to detect lung cancer in high risk individuals. c-CARE provides an excellent platform for coalescing healthcare providers, community organizations, government leaders and other key stakeholders that share common goals with respect to lung cancer incidence, mortality, morbidity and survivorship. Those enrolled in the c-CARE program and who meet eligibility criteria for participating in lung cancer screening through obtaining a LDCT scan, are navigated to this important screening for lung cancer.
Lung cancer is particularly lethal, causing more deaths than any other cancer among men and women of all races and ethnicities throughout the nation.
Within the c-CARE education modules, CHWs are trained to present current information about lung cancer prevention, guidelines for early detection and new treatment options. Among the resources that will be most helpful are those that are able to provide free and low-cost cancer-related services (prevention, early detection, treatment, surveillance), supplemental educational materials, and other forms of programmatic support. In addition to working with community clinics, many of which are co-located in or affiliated with local churches, c‐CARE leverages valuable resources available from the American Cancer Society, the Lung Cancer Alliance, and other non-profit organizations.
Smoking and other forms of tobacco use are high in the Central Savannah River Area, as is the burden of lung cancer. At each c‐CARE community site, in addition to providing an educational intervention using a “train-the-trainer” model, we worked with the pastors or administrators to implement a permanent Tobacco-Free policy that encompasses parking lots and green spaces as well as inside the buildings.
The primary target population for the c-CARE lung cancer module is adult African American smokers and former smokers whose historical level of smoking combined with other potential lung cancer risk factors often makes them eligible for lung cancer screening. If the participants want help to stop their use of tobacco and/or e-cigarettes, they will receive assistance to sign up for the Georgia Cancer Center’s Tobacco Cessation Program.