UAMS Receives Grant to Improve Access to Cancer Genetic Counseling Across Arkansas

By Susan Van Dusen

The one-year grant totaling $55,554 was presented to Kristin Zorn, M.D., director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the UAMS College of Medicine, by the Arkansas Cancer Coalition (ACC) at its quarterly meeting Sept. 12.

“This funding will allow cancer genetics specialists at UAMS to use our state’s extensive telehealth network to train local health care providers about inherited cancer syndromes and their impact on cancer risk. These providers will then be better equipped to help their patients take steps to manage or reduce their risk of developing cancer,” said Zorn, who also leads the Hereditary Gynecologic Cancer Clinic at UAMS.

Telehealth is the use of high-speed, interactive video that connects doctors and patients from distant locations.

“The Arkansas Cancer Coalition is committed to reducing the human suffering and economic burden from cancer for the citizens of Arkansas,” said Trena Mitchell, ACC executive director. “By partnering with academic and community-based organizations such as UAMS, we can multiply our efforts by reaching those in counties with the highest needs.”

The program’s initial goal is to educate local health care providers, via telehealth, about Lynch Syndrome, an inherited disorder that increases the risk of colon, endometrial and several other types of cancer. The program also will implement guidelines that local providers can use to evaluate colon and endometrial cancer patients for the syndrome. UAMS genetics specialists will guide the providers through the screening process and help identify and counsel patients with Lynch syndrome about strategies for managing their cancer risk.

“By identifying families who have Lynch syndrome, we can help them make informed decisions about options to prevent or detect early-stage cancer. These include screening efforts such as colonoscopy or cancer prevention through risk-reduction surgery, such as hysterectomy,” said Zorn.

UAMS is the state's only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS' clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report recognized UAMS Medical Center as a Best Hospital for 2021-22; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide for the third year; and named five areas as high performing — colon cancer surgery, diabetes, hip replacement, knee replacement and stroke. Forbes magazine ranked UAMS as seventh in the nation on its Best Employers for Diversity list. UAMS also ranked in the top 30% nationwide on Forbes’ Best Employers for Women list and was the only Arkansas employer included. UAMS has 2,876 students, 898 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state's largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children's, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.