The 2016-2020 State Cancer Plan is designed to be a guide for all Utahns who want to prevent and control cancer in the state. As a coalition, Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) has identified goals and strategies in four major priority areas for the state, and will focus on addressing these in the next 5 years. Success is dependent on individuals and organizations working together to achieve success. Below are examples of how different groups and individuals can help achieve the goals of the plan.
Find out how you can help UCAN prevent and control cancer in Utah
Healthcare professionals provide individuals and communities with the support necessary to prevent disease and promote health. Healthcare providers can work with patients to prevent and control cancer by routinely asking about health behaviors known to increase cancer risk including tobacco use, physical activity, diet, and in-home radon testing; recommending appropriate cancer prevention vaccines and screening tests; implementing office-based reminders that identify patients due for cancer prevention and screening services; learning about and offering clinical cancer research studies available to patients; and providing cancer patients with a written summary of their care plan. In addition, healthcare providers and hospitals can collaborate with, support and sponsor community screening programs, participate in clinical care research efforts across the state, and acquire and maintain accreditation and membership from national medical associations.
Local health departments are uniquely positioned to understand the needs of local communities and provide quality services to those they serve. Local health departments can address the burden of cancer in a variety of ways, including providing cancer awareness education; supporting community wellness campaigns; promoting prevention of chronic disease through healthy lifestyle behaviors; and providing access to low-cost cancer screenings, radon tests, and other health services.
Many Utah communities face significant challenges that affect the health and well-being of their residents. Poor individual and community health is often associated with other problems including poverty, educational opportunities, crime, access to quality services, and an unhealthy environment. Community-based organizations play a key role in addressing these challenges, and many can promote health as part of the work they do. Community-based organizations can develop and promote community-based disease prevention programs; create a local action plan to reduce barriers to cancer screenings; provide cancer awareness information to the public; enact tobacco-free campus policies; and provide community-based educational forums to address the specific and distinctive needs of cancer survivors including physical, psychological, financial, social, and spiritual needs.
Many Utahns spend a large proportion of their time at work. Worksites can impact the health of individual employees and also play a large role in disease reduction across the state. Employers and worksites can encourage employees to increase physical activity at home and during the work day; encourage workplace participation in wellness programs; provide financial coverage for recommended cancer screenings, including paid time off for employees to get screened; provide healthy foods and beverages in vending machines and cafeterias; enact tobacco-free campus policies; and provide protective clothing to employees applying fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides as well as sun-protective gear to employees working outside.
Schools are not only important for the education of our students, but for ensuring a healthy future for our children. Healthy students are more involved in the classroom, exhibit fewer disciplinary problems, and are better able to learn. School organizations can use this plan as an opportunity to promote health as an important aspect of school curriculum. Schools can prioritize health in the classroom by including chronic disease prevention messages in health classes; increasing opportunities for physical activity and education; enacting tobacco-free policies on school campuses; opening facilities to the community during off hours to encourage community health; ensuring ample shade is available for playgrounds and outdoor facilities; providing only healthy foods and beverages on campus and in cafeterias; and providing information to students and faculty about challenges cancer survivors may face as they return to school.
Public policy plays a critical role in determining the prevalence of chronic diseases, including cancer. In Utah, access to necessary cancer services is not distributed equally across the state. Barriers to quality treatment include lack of access to cancer services due to location, insurance status, race, ethnicity, language, and lack of awareness. Using the information in this plan, a policy maker can influence cancer prevention and control by ensuring that all Utahns have access to affordable, high quality healthcare; raising awareness of cancer as an important health issue; and strengthening and establishing programs that support cancer control.
While many Utahns pride themselves on their healthy lifestyles, there are still many things that can be done to decrease the burden of cancer in our state. Utahns can choose to improve their own health and reduce their risk of cancer by quitting tobacco or never starting to use tobacco; eating a primarily plant-based diet; increasing daily physical activity; maintaining a healthy weight; and protecting themselves from exposure to UV light. Testing and remediating homes for radon; limiting the use of pesticides and fertilizers; ensuring our children receive appropriate cancer prevention vaccines; and supporting community efforts to develop and improve public spaces for physical activities can create healthier environments for Utah families. It is important that Utahns discuss cancer screenings with healthcare providers and receive recommended screenings, support cancer control policies, consider enrolling in clinical trials if diagnosed, and assist and provide care for those living with cancer in their lives.
Cancer survivors are one of the most valuable assets in the fight against cancer. Survivors have a personal knowledge of cancer and understand what it takes to overcome this disease. Cancer survivors can get involved by participating in advocacy groups working to support cancer prevention and control, sharing their stories and educating the public, assisting in the development of programs aimed at helping those with the disease, and becoming an advocate of cancer prevention and control.