Understanding Cancer was developed in response to a call from grassroots coalitions to develop an easy to read resource with basic cancer information to use with people who are traditionally hard to engage. The program was collaboratively developed and tested by the Appalachia Community Cancer Network (ACCN). University members include Ohio State, Penn State, University of Kentucky, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University. Northern Appalachia Cancer Network based at Penn State Cancer Institute is a part of the ACCN.
The program is organized around five chapters (What is cancer; How to prevent cancer; How to detect cancer early; How is cancer diagnosed and treated; How to fight cancer in your community). The materials were developed to be used by community partners and can be used to train others (new staff, volunteers, survivors, etc.) using easy to read and understand language to educate the public about cancer. It was offered as a Train-the-Trainer because we were trying to test the dissemination of this low-literacy cancer education program and to gain feedback on dissemination and the utility of the program in the community.
The program includes easy to read summaries with lots of headings; each chapter ends with a list of action steps and a list of additional resources – people to talk to, places to call, and websites. Each section includes a short chapter of text, a word list, Pre and post training surveys, and Power Point slides. It can be used together or as stand-alone pieces. The program was field tested and reviewed by community partners at every step of development.