THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
The Crowley Rotary Club welcomed Pete Croughan, Louisiana Department of Health Chief of Staff, for an update on cancer care in Louisiana. Those on hand for the meeting were, from left, Suzy Webb, president-elect; Croughan, Louisiana Department of Health, guest speaker; Sue Croghan and Dr. Tim Croghan, of the Louisiana State University Rice Experiment Station, vocational speaker.
Croughan talks cancer care in La.
Louisiana does not have different cancer than other places, however, statistics show a much later diagnoses for patients in the Sportsman’s Paradise.
These statistics are built upon many factors such as diet and lack of appropriate preventive health care, yet it must be mentioned that ancestral connection play into it as well.
According to studies, colorectal cancer incidence rates in the Louisiana’s Acadiana parishes are demonstrated to be among highest in Louisiana.
The direct correlation between the Cajun descent can be linked to the founders effect.
Essentially, the “founders effect” is present when a particular gene mutation is present in a population at increased frequency because it was present in a small isolated group of “founders”—ancestors who gave rise to most of the individuals in the present day population.
Lynch Syndrome, a type of cancer syndrome, increases the risk of cancer because of inherited mutations that impair DNA mismatch repair.
Cajuns, in regard to genetic disposition, have been demonstrated for several genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs, Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy and Usher Syndrome type 1C.
Pete Croughan, Crowley native, Chief of Staff for the Louisiana Department of Health, delivered an informative discussion on the current status of cancer care in the state during Tuesday’s meeting of the Rotary Club of Crowley.
Croughan is currently on an approved break from the University of California Medical School and received his undergraduate from Yale University.
Approximately 23,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and of those about 9,000 succumb to the disease per year in Louisiana, according to Croughan.
At the present time the Louisiana Department of Health is creating a new method of care. With the expansion of Medicaid, those who were previously uninsured are allowed to receive coverage. For example, women are no longer forced to choose between getting a mammogram and dinner on the table, he explained.
Prior to expansion the “working poor” suffered terribly as their incomes exceeded the Medicaid income cut off, yet left them unable to pay for pricey insurance premiums.
“They were essentially falling through the cracks of health care, often left without a family doctor and relying on emergency room visits to correct medical issues,” Croughan said.
Currently, the Medicaid populous is made up of mostly the elderly, poor, and pregnant women. Under the Medicaid coverage, individuals are able to receive medical care with no premium and no deductible.
In addition to resolving the issue of the chronically uninsured Louisianans, the state has a rather firm cancer strategy plan in place. This includes the Louisiana Tumor Registry at LSU, the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium in New Orleans, and a governor and health secretary that are both passionate about the issue, Croughan told Rotarians.
Louisiana has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, with annual statistics having a numeric equivalent of about 160 people dying from cancer in the state every week. And, Louisiana has a higher death rate due to cancer than the national average.
The Louisiana Department of Health is willing to take on the challenge of stream lining cancer treatment into an efficient and consistent treatment available to all citizens as well as address the high cost as well.
With federal dollars invested in the medicaid expansion the Department of Health is using this “window of opportunity” to make a difference.