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Program addresses disparities for rural cancer patients

Reducing Rural Cancer Disparities Together, a project supported by a partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Carbone Cancer Center, recently received a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Children and adults living in rural communities are more likely to face health challenges associated with low levels of employment and education, geographic barriers and a lack of accessible health care,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “This program addresses these challenges head on by providing individuals in rural communities with health and safety education that can ultimately save their lives.”

The Wisconsin project is one of five grants, totaling $1.4 million, awarded across the country. NIFA officials noted in their press release that the Wisconsin project “… will increase the health literacy and access to services for rural residents in the area of cancer education and treatment while building capacity in health-focused coalitions to address rural health disparities.”

“Ensuring all of our friends and neighbors across Wisconsin have access to the best cancer-related health care and information, regardless of whether they live in the most rural parts of our state or the most populated, is the central goal of this project and of the UW Carbone Cancer Center. We look forward to working side-by-side with rural communities and UW-Extension on achieving this goal,” said Howard Bailey, MD, director of the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, and Andy and Susan North Professor of Cancer Research.

Building on Cancer Clear & Simple, a successful health education program piloted by UW’s cancer center Cancer Health Disparities Initiative in three rural south central counties, the new grant-funded effort will develop additional training tools, employ a “train-the-trainer” format involving UW-Extension county family living educators and their community partners, and expand Cancer Clear & Simple to rural counties statewide.

The Wisconsin team will also build local community coalition capacity to address systems and environmental factors to help reduce rural cancer disparities.

“This project is a strong example of our growing collaborative work with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and Carbone Cancer Center, both at state and county levels,” said Rick Klemme, dean and director of UW-Extension, Cooperative Extension.

To learn more about the impacts of UW-Extension and local, state and federal partners on individual, family and community health, go to