Office for Cancer Health Equity (OCHE) - Penn State Cancer Institute

Navigation Menu

Clinical Trial External Search

Children (age < 18 years)
Adults (age >= 18 years)

Office for Cancer Health Equity (OCHE)

Outreach H2

Infographic that describes the Penn State Cancer Institute catchment area demographics. Map of Pennsylvania in the middle that shows of the 28 counties in the catchment area, 19 are in Appalachia. Top to bottom on the left side of the map, the following information is displayed: 4 million total population; 1/3 of the population of Pennsylvania; 42% rural. Top to bottom on the right side of the map, the following information is displayed: 85% white alone, not Hispanic or Latino, 8% Hispanic or Latino, 5% Black or African American.

Reducing the Burden of Cancer in Central Pennsylvania

Outreach Overview

The Penn State Cancer Institute serves central Pennsylvania, our 28-county catchment area, with world-class care, research, training and outreach. Our healthcare providers, researchers, staff and students want to help you and your loved ones lead healthier lives! Together, we can make a difference in central Pennsylvania.

Central Pennsylvania is a unique and exciting place. The region is a thriving mix of rural communities, friendly boroughs, historic towns, and bustling cities. The population is racially and ethnically diverse.

Being a part of Pennsylvania State University, we bring a wealth of cutting-edge research and resources to residents throughout Pennsylvania. Our collective mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through services that ‘make a difference’, especially for those who are at highest risk of cancer’s devastating impact. We are as equally as focused upon preventing cancer from occurring, finding cancer early, treating cancer with the latest therapies, and helping cancer survivors enjoy life to its fullest. We are actively engaged with patient navigators, community health workers and promotoras because they serve a critical role in cancer outreach, research and care.

We don’t do this alone. We recognize that residents, community-based organizations, and policy-makers have a vital role in achieving the vision that no one will die from cancer in central Pennsylvania. Indeed, everyone has a unique and essential part to play. This is an ambitious vision, but together we can achieve it.

For more information, including receiving a list of manuscripts and reports on cancer and cancer control in central Pennsylvania, contact

About Our Catchment Area Basic Content


The mission of OCHE is to foster bilateral engagement between communities and partners in central Pennsylvania and Penn State that advances cancer health equity and reduces cancer burden for all. This engagement provides a foundation for world-class cancer research, care, outreach, education and policy development.

The vision of OCHE is to make certain no one in central Pennsylvania develops a preventable cancer or dies prematurely from cancer.

OCHE Focus

OCHE work is composed of:

  • Mapping and disseminating data on cancer and its determinants in central Pennsylvania and beyond. To see more data on cancer visit LionVu.
  • Promoting patient navigation to reduce the burden of cancer
  • Advising the Penn State Cancer Institute on culturally appropriate clinical care
  • Helping to assure that minority and underserved populations have access to cancer education and research.

OCHE Central Pennsylvania Focus Area:

  • The Penn State Cancer Institute’s 28-county area comprises 4 million people.
  • OCHE is dedicated to relieving cancer burden for all populations, especially those in racial and ethnic minorities and rural populations.


Nested Applications


Hispanic/Latino Community Cancer Advisory Board (CAB)

Established in 2018, the Hispanic/Latino Community Cancer Advisory Board (CAB) serves as a bridge between the Penn State Cancer Institute (PSCI) and the Hispanic/Latino community in central Pennsylvania. The CAB advises the PSCI on all cancer issues that affect Hispanics/Latinos, reviews cancer-related research protocols, helps recruit study participants, and conducts outreach for cancer prevention and control.

The CAB has been instrumental in research related to collection of social determinants of health data from cancer patients, skin cancer risk perception and behavior among Hispanic/Latinos, colorectal cancer education and cancer screening among Latino men, overscreening for cancer among older adults, breast cancer prevention and screening among Latina women, and a Spanish-language cancer webinar series which has had domestic and international reach.

The CAB is composed of community leaders and organizations from central Pennsylvania. It is co-chaired by a community member and academic member and meets on a quarterly basis. The CAB always welcomes new community leaders with an interest in cancer prevention and control and will advocate for the Hispanic/Latino community in central Pennsylvania. If you would like more information, please contact

Cancer Institute staff member advances health equity in central Pennsylvania.

Cancer Navigation and Survivorship Network (CaNSuN)

The Cancer Navigation and Survivorship Network (CaNSuN) is a hub for cancer patient navigation in Pennsylvania. Our mission is to connect, educate, develop and share best practices among patient navigators in Pennsylvania so that together we can successfully reduce barriers and increase access to cancer prevention, screening, treatment and survivorship services. In brief, we want to “help navigators navigate.” CaNSuN:

  • Disseminates navigation-related materials and tools
  • Shares best practice strategies for identifying and removing barriers to cancer screening and care
  • Fosters networking and communication among navigators
  • Promotes professional development opportunities
  • Identifies and collaborates on research to improve patient outcomes
  • Advocates for f navigation within healthcare systems, the community and the Commonwealth.

To accomplish this, we host monthly virtual meetings with state and national leaders and host an annual in-person summit. We also publish a monthly newsletter In 2021, we conducted a statewide environmental scan to better understand the landscape of navigation services in Pennsylvania and strategies best support navigators through network activities.

CaNSuN is advised by a steering committee of navigators, social workers, and community health workers, with representation from the PA Department of Health, American Cancer Society, and leading health systems and cancer centers.

Get Checked PA!: A training program for Community Health Workers (CHWs)

Established in 2022, Get Checked PA! is an evidence-based, multi-component initiative designed to reduce the cancer burden in Pennsylvania through the work of Community Health Workers (CHWs). Get Checked PA! is a train-the-trainer program to support instructors in CHW training programs and CHWs working in the field. A primary component is an interactive curriculum that equips CHWs with the knowledge and competency to improve cancer screening and early detection strategies in their community. Get Checked PA! provides participants with continuing education credits from the PA CHW Certification Board. One participant reported, “I enjoyed the overall content. The detailed information about certain types of cancer was very well explained and illustrated."

Get Checked PA! is developing a mentored, apprenticeship program with health care and community-based organizations who employ one of our graduates for cancer prevention and control.


The OCHE has developed LionVu - a free online mapping resource and data portal.  LionVu can be used by community members, program managers and researchers to understand the impact of cancer and cancer risk on communities throughout Pennsylvania.  LionVu has more than 400 data variables, including social determinants of health, health care access and cancer outcomes.

Precision Cancer Screening Navigation

In 2021, the OCHE initiated ‘precision patient navigation’ as a strategy to support cancer survivorship. Our goal is detection and treatment of cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective.  ‘Precision patient navigation’ extends traditional screening navigation by using quantitative methods to assess a patient’s social determinants of health and clinical history so as to tailor one-on-one screening navigation.  Our navigators, who hold master’s degrees in social work, utilize evidence-based strategies such as motivational interviewing and shared decision-making.  This tailored approach increases the efficiency and effectiveness of traditional screening navigation. Working closely with Penn State Health, 200 women were offered ‘precision patient navigation’ for breast cancer during 2022-23.