Cancer Community Outreach & Engagement
Improving the health of the communities we serve is the mission of John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Meridian Health.
New Jersey’s Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties have rates of cancer and cancer-related deaths among the highest in the United States. The Cancer Community Outreach & Engagement (CCOE) program at John Theurer Cancer Center is working to change that.
The CCOE aims to address disparities in cancer care and improve cancer-related outcomes through:
- Assessing the burden of cancer and contributing risk factors in our communities
- Conducting clinical and population-based research specific to and inclusive of the patients we serve
- Partnering with community-based organizations to deliver cancer education and programs focused on decreasing risk, early detection and treatment
- Considering social determinants of health at all points along the cancer care continuum
Guiding the Cancer Community Outreach & Engagement program is our Community Advisory Council, comprising representatives of our diverse patient population and community- and faith-based organizations. As part of our collaboration, a representative of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center sits on the committee as well.
The Community Advisory Council allows us to assess the needs of our community, ensuring Hackensack Meridian Health does not exclude or burden those we serve through our engagement. These relationships facilitate our outreach to the most underserved.
From annual health fairs to ongoing programs, Cancer Community Outreach & Engagement provides a range of educational and screening services for detectable cancers, namely breast, cervical, colorectal, lung and prostate.
Our current CCOE programs include:
Community-based events during Prostate Cancer Awareness month reach hundreds of men by raising awareness for cancers that impact them, including prostate, colorectal and lung cancers. Events include:
- Cancer risk assessments
- Screening for prostate cancer
- Presentations and educational materials
- Participation in biomarker research at the Center for Discovery and Innovation related to prostate cancer in diverse populations
With our community partners, the CCOE hosts back-to-school health fairs to raise awareness about prevention of cervical cancer and to offer HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination for boys and girls ages 11 and older. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 93 percent of cervical cancers can be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination.
The CCOE partners with New Jersey-based faith leaders during Lung Cancer Awareness Month to combat the leading cancer killer in the United States. Community-based events focus on prevention, screening and early detection while not disparaging behaviors or risk factors related to lung cancer.
Additionally, Fit and Quit 2.0 is designed for women looking to decrease the risk of lung cancer through smoking cessation and increased physical activity. The ongoing study currently is enrolling participants.
Addressing Disparities in Cancer Care
To achieve cancer care equity, we must identify the areas of greatest need and address disparities.
The CCOE integrates social determinants of health (SDoH) into our community-based efforts to:
- Enhance outreach and prevention activities to the most under-resourced communities
- Reduce barriers to care with assistance with prescription, transportation, care access and navigating the health care system
- Facilitate community-relevant research with emphasis on underserved and vulnerable populations