A ‘perfect storm’ of problems
So, while scientific advances such as immuno-oncology research may greatly improve cancer care broadly, making progress in areas such as Kentucky also requires an understanding of cultural forces that factor into how we promote preventive measures and treatment. In fact, it demands that we see and discuss the issues on the ground, face-to-face, which is what we did recently in Kentucky’s capital, Louisville.
Each community faces its own set of challenges when it comes to cancer and cancer care. Kentucky, unfortunately, faces a “perfect storm” of problems contributing to its high rates of cancer, including the elevated smoking rates often seen in states with historic ties to tobacco, political inaction on pivotal fronts and poverty. The most important lesson we learned in Louisville – and we learned this from those who live and work in the community – is that addressing these and other community-specific problems requires prevention and treatment programs that ‘speak the language’ of the community and that are attuned to the cultural nuances that have long dictated how community members approach problems.
Yet, rather than focusing on a singular program, we need to create an environment in which patients can trust the healthcare providers in their communities and the resources offered to make the greatest progress possible in areas especially hard hit by cancer, such as Kentucky. As a company whose goal is to tackle areas of unmet medical need, it’s up to us to find and work with community organizations that can help bridge the cultural gaps that today impede greater progress.