Research project aims to improve breast cancer outcomes in Appalachia

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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BLUEFIELD, Va. (WVVA) - Dr. Fred Barker is involved with Community Connections and Appalachian Medical Professionals. Those two groups are backing new research to help breast cancer patients in rural Appalachia achieve better outcomes. The research will span five years.

“One of the things we’re going to focus on is using breast cancer survivors because of course they are probably the women who are the most motivated to help improve outcomes,” said Barker.

Barker says our region has some of the most deaths across the country right now when it comes to cancer as a whole but if they focus on solutions to help with breast cancer, like early detection and screening, they can change that.

“If as we’re going along we see some things that seem to make improvements on. That’s what we’re going to focus on. We’re going to make those changes as we go. What we hope to be able to show is demonstrable outcome improvements by what we’re doing here,” said Barker.

The doctor adds they’re working on gathering data from health care providers across 15 counties in the two Virginias. He believes a maximum of thirty-five-percent of women in those counties are getting annual mammograms as recommended.

“I think that there are healthcare disparities that go on. We’re generally poorer than the rest of the population. We have transportation problems. We have some education problems,” said Barker.

Barker says they are working to add reliable data about breast cancer to their website in the coming weeks. You can visit the website here: