The Kentucky Cancer Registry, which has been tracking incidences of cancer throughout the state since 1991, received a multi-million dollar contract from the National Cancer Institute, enabling it to continue to help cancer researchers, clinicians and policymakers.
The Cancer Registry, which works with UK’s Markey Cancer Control Program, aggregates cancer data from all Kentucky acute care hospitals and analyzes them for trends.
The registry especially focuses on cancer incidence in Appalachia, which according to Markey director Dr. Mark Evers has a 36 percent higher mortality rate from cancer than the rest of the state. Kentucky as a whole, he said, has especially high rates of lung, colorectal, and cervical cancer compared to the rest of the country.
"Kentucky is home to the highest incidence and mortality rates in the country, and the burden of lung cancer is especially great," Evers said in a Thursday press release.
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The money funds the registry’s continued participation in the NCI’s SEER, or Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results program which brings together the cancer registries of 12 states and four metropolitan areas. The registry has been a part of the SEER program since 2000, but is the first state registry to receive a full 10-year contract.
The contract is for $2.6 million originally, but if all contract options are exercised it could rise to as much as $31 million.
The money will continue to fund Markey's Molecular Tumor Board, a 2016 initiative that uses a patient's genetic makeup to tailor their cancer treatment, as opposed to focusing on the specific sort of tumor someone has. Information from the board is shared with KCR, whose information is in turn shared with researchers across the state, as well as throughout the country.
It will also fund KCR's genomic representation of Kentucky, which director Eric Durbin called "precision cancer surveillance," a database that represents the genetic makeup of different parts of Kentucky, with various cancer risks, which can then be used for modeling.
"This is a really important step forward in treating patients," said Dr. Thomas Tucker, associate director for Cancer Prevention and Control at Markey and former KCR director.
The NCI's funding, he said, was an "essential component" that allowed the registry to do sustained research work over long periods of time and retain staff. Durbin said the NCI recognized KCR's informatics core that allows for future innovations in cancer research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also contributes funding.