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Outreach arm of KU Cancer Center to provide free cancer screenings throughout Kansas and Western Missouri

The Masonic Cancer Alliance partners with the Kansas Masons to provide screenings throughout the spring and summer.

photo of man sitting while a resident in scrubs inspects his head
A dermatology resident from KU School of Medicine performs a cancer skin check in Spring Hill, Kansas.

Beginning this month, the Masonic Cancer Alliance (MCA) is offering free cancer screenings in communities throughout Kansas and Western Missouri. Now in their 25th year, the screenings happen throughout the year. It’s one of the ways to ensure people have access to cancer prevention, detection and survivorship in the heartland.

As the outreach network of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, designated as a Comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute, MCA is a critical part of how the center serves its catchment area. Working in collaboration with Kansas Masons and other partners across the state, MCA staff manage these cancer screening events, secure locations and coordinate with residents from KU School of Medicine, who perform the screenings. Each site will have two KU dermatology residents to screen for skin cancers and one KU urology resident for prostate screenings. They also distribute home colorectal cancer screening kits, offer blood pressure checks, cancer risk assessments and tobacco cessation resources and referrals.

“We typically do screenings at a Masonic lodge, a church, school or health departments,” said Brooke Groneman, assistant director for outreach at MCA. “But wherever you can think of, we’ve probably done a screening there, too! We’ve worked in store fronts, a judge’s chambers, an arts and crafts studio, a trailer and even an airplane hangar.”

The screenings are open to walk-ins, and anyone may get skin cancer checks and engage with other services. Staff use an “informed decision-making model” where a urologist can assess a patient’s personal history to determine appropriate screenings.

person performing cancer screening on a seated man wearing overalls
Free cancer screenings are available throughout Kansas and Western Missouri through the Masonic Cancer Alliance.

Screening for skin cancers includes checking for melanomas and basal and squamous cell carcinomas. MCA’s data shows that about 20% of individuals screened at these events receive results showing an abnormality. Those individuals are referred to their primary physician for further evaluation and diagnosis. If they don’t have a doctor, MCA can help find them one in their community.

As part of the follow-up care, participants can sign up for a program called MCAHealthyU. Weekly texts remind them to get the follow-up recommended at the screening and provide them with information on cancer prevention and other health and wellness topics.

Through the years, the cancer screenings program has become very popular, especially in rural communities. At their peak, the events welcomed an average of 70-80 participants, and sometimes as many as 100. During the pandemic, participation drastically decreased, likely due to having limited space and mandatory reservations. Reservations are no longer required. “We have started to see participation bounce back,” Groneman said, “and last year we started averaging 30-40.”

The next few screenings are:

  • Saturday, April 20, from 9 a.m.-noon at the Fortitude Masonic Lodge, 2000 W. Laurel St., Independence, Kansas
  • Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lafayette Masonic Lodge, 322 Houston St., Manhattan
  • Saturday, May 11, from 9 a.m.-noon at Georgetown Independent Living, 1655 S. Georgetown St., Wichita

Check the MCA Facebook page to see the schedule for additional screenings.

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