Accessing Cancer Care

About This Grant:

Penquis has successfully administered the Accessing Cancer Care program for four years. With this grant Penquis will provide rides to cancer treatment and support services for residents for Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties with a self-identified need for transportation services. We will also educate providers and the public about the availability of transportation for cancer treatment and support services.

Cancer Care of Maine, in Brewer, is the only cancer treatment facility in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. The Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, in Augusta, is the closest cancer treatment facility to Knox County. This means that many rural residents must travel long distances to receive treatment. For many, this is simply not possible, either because they don’t drive, or can’t drive due to poor health or mobility, don’t have a reliable vehicle, or can’t afford the cost of a taxi. At Eastern Maine Medical Center and the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care, care is provided without regard to an individual’s ability to pay, so sometimes the only barrier is a ride there.

Regional providers, also, assert that transportation to treatment is an ongoing need. In addition, they note that transportation to support and diagnostic services is critically important and a need that continues to be unmet. 

A population of particular concern is the senior population. Research studies have found transportation to be a significant obstacle to maintaining or improving rural elders’ health status. Family members do not always live nearby to help. Those who do rely on family or friends may feel guilt and reluctance to be a burden.

From the data, we know that transportation needs are varied, determined by such factors as individual health status, age, insurance, income, and social support networks. A multitude of transportation options must be available in order to address a wide range of abilities and circumstances.

According to the Maine Annual Cancer Report 2014, the cancer incidence rates for Penobscot and Knox counties, 507.8 and 508.5, respectively, are higher than the state rate of 488.7. While Piscataquis County’s overall incidence rate of 458.3 is lower than the state rate, the incidence rate for females is higher, at 475.6 vs. 449.4 for the state. 

Statewide data shows that the highest cancer incidence rates occur among seniors. The highest rate is for individuals 75-79 years, followed by 80-84 years, 80+ years, and 70-74 years. 

Access to Care
Patient Support


Year Grant Title Category Amount Grant Recipient
2017 Access to Cancer Care Access to Care, Patient Support, Transportation $7,500 Penquis
2017 Accessing Cancer Care Access to Care, Patient Support, Transportation $50,000 Penquis
2016 Accessing Cancer Care Access to Care, Patient Support, Transportation $15,000 Penquis
2015 Accessing Cancer Care Access to Care, Patient Support, Transportation $10,000 Penquis