OUR MISSION

ACS’ COMMITMENT TO HEALTH EQUITY

Ensuring that ALL people have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer will be our Taste Of Hope Charlotte 2022 gala mission and central theme for our work going forward.

Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. Many complex structural and social factors can impact a person's ability to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. These include such examples as racism, discrimination, poverty, lack of access to healthy and affordable foods, geographical location, or inadequate pay. It's important to understand that genetics or making healthy choices is only part of what contributes to health.

For ACS and ACS CAN, health equity means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. This means providing specific tools and resources based on individual needs to allow everyone the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Health equity is not the same as equality, which means providing everyone with the same tools and resources, regardless of their individual situation and needs.

ACS is committed to advancing health equity through our research, programs, service, and through ACS CAN’s advocacy priorities. Our current health equity work includes: 

  • Identifying and understanding issues related to cancer disparities and health equity through research. 

  • ACS is funding 65 grants reflecting $62 million in health disparities/health equity research.

  • To help improve inclusion in the cancer research field, the American Cancer Society is establishing the Diversity in Research Internships program. Over the next 10 years, this program will offer paid biomedical research internship opportunities for people whose racial or ethnic background is underrepresented in the field. 

  • Through the Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program, we partner with health system partners to lead evidence-based interventions and award small grants to address systems-level change and increase access to low- or no-cost cancer screenings in under-resourced communities. Current CHANGE program funders include the National Football League (NFL) and Genentech.

  • Contributing to ongoing dialogue and collaboration around health equity issues with public health organizations, health systems, corporate partners, social and civic organizations, and faith-based organizations.

  • Through a $9.8M partnership, ACS and Pfizer Global Medical Grants are collaborating to reduce disparities impacting Black men and women facing cancer. Grants to 25 community and health system projects (totaling over $7.7 million) are aimed at addressing breast health equity prostate cancer disparities, or systemic race-related barriers to care. The partnership also includes funding for a new three-year ACS postdoctoral fellowship focused on health disparities research.

  • Piloting Health Equity Community Projects, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, that explore, identify, and implement community-driven solutions to advance health equity and address social determinants of health such as financial stability, access to healthy and affordable foods and food security, and lack of data access and ownership that contribute to cancer disparities.

  • Through ACS CAN, fighting for public policies and laws at the federal, state, and local levels that help reduce disparities in cancer care, including those that improve access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health insurance, ensure greater diversity among clinical trial participants, and increase funding for cancer screening and prevention programs that serve low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals.

Some important stats in supporting the case for health inequities/disparities:

  • The Black community has the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial or ethnic group in the US for most cancers.

  • People in the poorest areas have approximately 20%-25% higher cancer death rates than those in the most affluent areas.

  • Breast cancer mortality is 41% higher for Black women in the US versus white women, even though incidence rates are similar.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic/Latino people, accounting for 21% of deaths.

                 

           A message from our Mission Chair                Rob's story