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Idaho is a state with a diverse and vibrant culture that extends far beyond its potato and agricultural industry. The cities are dynamic and growing, with Boise, the state capital, leading the way as a hub for business, technology, and culture. Other cities, such as Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene, are also experiencing rapid development and growth in population.
Despite Idaho being the second-fastest growing state in the U.S., there are still many challenges in accessing cancer prevention, screening, and care. With a majority of Idaho’s population centered around the Boise metro area, Idaho is considered a sparsely populated state. With an average of 19 people per square mile, most communities are small and scattered over mountain ranges.
Cancer remains a leading cause of death, 12.8% of Idaho adults are uninsured, and 11.2% of Idahoans live below the federal poverty level. Many Idahoans also live in rural and frontier areas and must travel long distances to receive specialty medical care.
In February, the Comprehensive Cancer Alliance for Idaho (CCAI) hosted its annual meeting at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. Members of Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Community Outreach and Engagement team attended the meeting in person to learn, present, and network with individuals and organizations from across The Gem State.
The CCAI was founded in 2008 as a directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The organization includes a board of directors, priority workgroups, and approximately 200 members. CCAI’s mission is to convene the cancer community, ensure cancer data are accessible, and utilize their collective impact to address the cancer burden across the state.
The goals of CCAI are to decrease the incidence of preventable cancers, decrease preventable cancer deaths, and improve the quality of life for people in Idaho affected by cancer. CCAI aims to achieve its goals through the development and implementation of the Idaho comprehensive cancer strategic plan. Last year, the five-year roadmap was updated to reflect updates priorities which span prevention, early detection and screening, treatment, and quality of life and survivorship.
David Wetter, PhD, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Equity (HOPE) talked about The Area We Serve and shared some ideas on how teams at Huntsman Cancer Institute may be able to collaborate in Idaho. “We were extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to travel to Boise, share some of our work, and meet with some of the key cancer leaders in Idaho,” says Wetter.
Other presenters at the meeting discussed Idaho cancer data, cancer advocacy led by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the impact of COVID-19 on cancer screening.
This meeting was the largest ever for CCAI, with more than 80 participants. “We thank the team at Huntsman Cancer Institute for being esteemed cancer advocates and for showing up to support Idaho,” said Becky Creighton, health program manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and CCAI board member. “We look forward to our continued collaboration.”