Monday, March 28, 2016

EASTERN KENTUCKY - Cancer Epidemic

"Why cancer is so hard to fight in rural Kentucky" PBS NewsHour 3/25/2016

NOTE:  I made a correction in the first paragraph of transcript, shown below, where the transcript mistakenly stated "Judy Woodruff" for the paragraph.


SUMMARY:  Cancer is epidemic in eastern Kentucky, a result of medical illiteracy, limited access to care, unhealthy lifestyles and poverty.  In fact, life expectancy in the region is five years shorter than the rest of the nation.  But state health officials are aiming to change that with comprehensive prevention and education initiatives.  Special correspondent Jackie Judd reports.

JACKIE JUDD (NewsHour):  There are a few certainties in Sam Wilson's hardscrabble life, bluegrass that sustains him, and cancer that he expects will kill him.

SAM WILSON, Cancer Sufferer:  I was laid up with cancer and didn't know it, in my bladder, kidney, prostate, some in my bowels and colon.

JACKIE JUDD:  In Eastern Kentucky, Appalachia, cancer is epidemic, and has been for decades.  The highest-in-the-nation rates are fueled by a toxic combination of poverty, medical illiteracy, limited access to care, lifestyle choices like smoking, and a fatalism that says knowing you have cancer won't save you.

SAM WILSON:  My whole family, they just won't go to the doctor anymore.  My mother died of cancer and she wouldn't go.  Two of my sisters died with cancer.  But they went to the doctor, but they still passed away.

JACKIE JUDD:  Irene, did you try to convince him to go to the doctor when he wasn't feeling well?

WOMAN:  He finally told me after a few years, and he said, it's so painful, something has to be done.

JACKIE JUDD:  After a few years?  Years?

WOMAN:  Yes, he's very lucky, yes.

JACKIE JUDD:  Not months or weeks, years?

WOMAN:  No.  No.  What, about four years maybe?

JACKIE JUDD:  Kentucky public health officials are trying to change that storyline, to get people screened, so disease is discovered before it is too late to treat.

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