/////UAMS Experts Brief Legislators on Colon Cancer in Arkansas
UAMS Experts Brief Legislators on Colon Cancer in Arkansas 2018-01-05T09:15:54+00:00

APRIL 12, 2006 | Arkansas legislators gathered March 16 at the Capitol Hill Building near the state Capitol to hear the latest evidence about colorectal cancer in Arkansas from experts at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and community partners from across the state.


Legislators also were briefed on the Arkansas Colorectal Cancer Act of 2005. The act provides $1 million for UAMS to set up a two-year demonstration project to provide colorectal cancer education and screenings in Arkansas. The project is overseen at UAMS by the Arkansas Cancer Research Center’s Cancer Control Department and its director, Ronda S. Henry-Tillman, M.D.


“With an early diagnosis, almost every patient with colon cancer survives. But in Arkansas, 40 percent of people diagnosed with the disease die,” Henry-Tillman, told the lawmakers.

“The barrier to reducing the death rate is a lack of funding and societal commitment. That is one reason the Colorectal Cancer Act was passed — so we can get a handle on this disease,” she said.


Rep. Joyce Elliott called the Colorectal Cancer Act “a good start,” adding that it is important for legislators to understand the connection between public policy and whether or not people receive the services they need. “We must put policies in place for the long-term benefit of the state,” she said.


The legislative briefing was the first in a series of briefings on cancer-related topics scheduled through 2009 and was sponsored by the Arkansas Cancer Community Network (AR-CCN), a program of the ACRC’s Cancer Control Department.


The briefing was presented by Sen. Jack Critcher of Batesville, Rep. Joyce Elliott of Little Rock and Rep. Jay Bradford of White Hall. Presenters included:

·        HenryTillman, principal investigator of the AR-CCN

·        Paul Greene, Ph.D., professor of health behavior and health education in the UAMS College of Public Health

·        Glen Mays, Ph.D., M.P.H., vice chairman and associate professor of health policy and management at the UAMS College of Public Health

·        Alonzo Williams Sr., M.D., of the Arkansas Diagnostic Center

·        Tina Gill of the Arkansas Cancer Coalition


“The focus of the cancer briefing series is to provide state and local policymakers with the latest objective, scientific evidence about the cancer burden in Arkansas,” Henry-Tillman said.


The AR-CCN project is funded by the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. “We want to provide legislators with specific strategies for reducing the cancer burden and cancer-related disparities in the state.”  


 Age, family history and diet are key factors in the development of colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society anticipates 1,670 new cases of colorectal cancer in Arkansas in 2006. About 620 Arkansans are expected to die from the disease this year.


Regular screening through tests such a colonoscopy provide the best opportunity to detect colorectal cancer in its earliest stage, when successful treatment is often possible. Screenings are recommended for people starting at age 50, and physician recommendation is the primary reason that people undergo screenings, Henry-Tillman said.


The plan to increase the screening rate is being implemented at 10 primary care practices, with two in each of Arkansas’ public health regions, Henry-Tillman said. Surveys of physicians and community residents will help access screening practices and rates.


The Colorectal Cancer Act dovetails with a $4.2 million, five-year National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities grant awarded to Henry-Tillman in 2005. The grant is to develop research, education and policy interventions to reduce cancer health disparities in minority and underserved communities.


The Arkansas Cancer Community Networks policy model provides a framework for evaluating and improving the colorectal cancer law, Henry-Tillman said. The research also provides evidence-based information for state and local policymakers trying to decide the best ways to reduce other cancer disparities in Arkansas.


Partners actively involved in the planning and implementation of the cancer briefing series are the American Cancer Society; the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health; the Arkansas Cancer Coalition; the Arkansas Prostate Cancer Foundation; and the UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Center.