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ACS awards $4.2 million in patient navigation grants

Health systems will receive funds to bolster oncology navigation programs.

ACS today announced it is awarding $4.2 million in multi-year grants to 14 hospital systems across the country to enhance oncology patient navigation and address barriers to individualized, timely, and equitable access to care.

Each health system will receive $300,000 to bolster existing oncology navigation programs. Sponsorship for this initiative was led by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, along with Bristol Myers Squibb. Additional sponsors include Daiichi Sankyo and other funders. Grant recipients include:

  • HIMA San Pablo Oncologico-Caguas, Caguas, Puerto Rico
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • VCU Massey Cancer Center, Richmond, Virginia
  • The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • University Of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
  • Harris Health System, Houston, Texas
  • Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 
  • Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center, Bronx, New York
  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Seattle, Washington
  • City of Hope, Los Angeles, California
  • The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado

ACS team members will be collecting evidence-based metrics from these health systems during the grant period and analyzing them. Today’s news comes on the heels of a special supplement to the journal Cancer released last month highlighting the importance of patient navigation. This supplement has detailed information about the impact and efficacy of navigation on the cancer journey.

History in patient navigation

ACS has long been a leader in patient navigation. For more than 30 years ACS has helped pave the way for navigation, establishing it as a path to ensuring access to quality care and improve health equity across the cancer continuum.

ACS involvement dates back to 1989, with the release of a Report to the Nation on Cancer in the Poor. In the 1990s, the organization supported surgical oncologist Harold P. Freeman, MD, in creating the first patient navigation program in Harlem, New York, where Dr. Freeman reported that “half of the women (with breast cancer) were terminal when they walked in” to the Harlem Hospital Center.

In 2005, ACS launched the ACS Patient Navigator Program, in partnership with AstraZeneca, through which the organization placed lay patient navigators in health systems across the country. These new grants are a way to provide support and capacity development of existing patient navigation programs, where ACS can have even greater impact. 

Patient navigation work today

Today, ACS’s work in navigation focuses on a multi-dimensional engagement plan, developing and driving sustainable solutions across the cancer continuum. This strategy has three parts:

  • Navigation support and capacity development: Helping hospital and health systems develop best practices, processes, and metrics for addressing barriers to care.
  • Sustainability and reimbursement: Through the National Navigation Roundtable, advocacy via ACS CAN, and other strategies ACS is playing a lead role to shape the field of patient navigation.
  • Digital navigation platform: ACS is committed to implementing a broad digital platform strategy to help oncology patients, regardless of zip code, insurance status, or medical home. This work is in its early stages.

ACS also has strategic investments in Discovery to further patient navigation, such as support for the work of Karen Freund, MD, MPH, an ACS clinical research professor based at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA. Her ACS-funded research focuses on patient navigation to eliminate cancer disparities. Through a series of subsequent strategic investments, including the continued funding of extramural research in navigation, ACS has supported the emergence of patient navigation as a successful service delivery model for at-risk cancer patients.

  • Tawana Thomas-Johnson, John Alfonso to speak at virtual roundtable

    American Cancer Society Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Tawana Thomas-Johnson will speak Thursday, June 30, 2022, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. ET, as part of a live webinar event. The roundtable discussion will focus on trends in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting and how they impact the nonprofit sector.

    ACS employees and volunteers can watch the live event for free; registration is required. The event is coordinated by CohnReznick, a leading advisory, assurance, and tax firm. Other roundtable speakers include:  

    • John Alfonso, partner and not-for-profit industry practice leader, CohnReznick (also immediate past chair, ACS Board of Directors) 
    • Maurice Crescenzi, principal, risk advisory practice leader, CohnReznick 
    • Allison Guttenplan, senior manager, CohnReznick 
    • India Johnson, president/CEO, American Arbitration Association 
    • Danielle Ward, managing director, institutional client executive, Bank of America 

    Panelists will discuss insights on the ESG reporting landscape, risks and opportunities to consider, as well as how nonprofit organizations can address and adapt to regulatory decisions on the topic. The event is anticipated to qualify for 1.5 CPE credits in the specialized knowledge field of study. 



  • FDA orders JUUL to pull all e-cigarette products from shelves across the U.S.

    On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it will issue marketing denial orders to all JUUL e-cigarette products. The products must be removed from shelves across the country or risk enforcement action as FDA has ruled they do not meet the public health standard required to be authorized for sale.

    This marketing denial order means all JUUL products, including their menthol-flavored products, will now have to be removed from shelves in the US. The decision is a major victory, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) heavily advocated for it.

    In 2018, ACS CAN joined public health and medical groups and pediatricians to successfully sue the FDA after the agency sought to extend its deadline to August 2022 for e-cigarette manufacturers to apply to the agency and demonstrate their products are “appropriate for the protection of the public health” in order to market their products. This delay would have left these products on store shelves unregulated until at least that time. In 2019, a federal judge ruled the FDA acted illegally in extending the deadline. By court order, manufacturers were given until September 9, 2020, to submit applications to the FDA and those failing to do so were subject to having their products removed from the market. FDA’s announcement today is their ruling on JUUL’s product applications – products that make up a significant portion of the market share.

    ACS CAN and other public health groups submitted a letter to the FDA in April 2021, urging the agency to deny authorization of the sale of JUUL e-cigarette products since these products cannot meet the required public health standard. The groups also sent a letter in April 2022 calling on the agency to deny authorization of sale of menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, which are part of JUUL’s marketing denial order. ACS CAN has also continued working with Congressional leadership to reinforce the importance of denying authorization of sale of JUUL e-cigarettes.

    The following is a statement from Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of ACS CAN:

    “ACS CAN strongly supports the FDA’s decision to issue a marketing denial order to JUUL for the company’s e-cigarette products, including menthol-flavored e-cigarettes. This decision sends a strong message that public health is paramount when regulating tobacco products, especially a product which is proven to be the chief driver behind our country’s youth e-cigarette epidemic. 

    “There is overwhelming data to demonstrate the negative impact JUUL products have had on public health. In the time JUUL products were on the market unregulated, these products and JUUL’s marketing strategies significantly contributed to the youth e-cigarette crisis we currently face in this nation and led to new, previously unimaginable, levels of addiction among youth. Given research shows youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use combustible cigarettes, preventing youth addiction to these products is critical to preventing tobacco-related cancers.

    “The tobacco industry has long used flavors to hook kids and e-cigarette manufacturers have taken that strategy and run with it, unregulated for far too long. FDA’s decision to deny authorization of the sale of  JUUL products, including menthol products, is an important step that will protect our kids from an industry built on luring people into a lifetime of addiction.  It blunts the potential for future generations to become addicted to tobacco and suffering from tobacco-related diseases like cancer.

     “We commend FDA for standing up for public health and ordering the removal of JUUL e-cigarette products, including its menthol flavored products, from the market and urge the agency to enforce its decision swiftly.  

     “ACS CAN remains committed to working with Congress, state and local lawmakers to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.” 

  • ASCO annual meeting has wrapped up

    ACS had a key presence at global oncology conference.

    June 3 marks the start of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting, held online and in person through June 7. With more than 40,000 oncology professionals from around the world attending, this meeting is one of the largest, most diverse in global oncology. For the American Cancer Society, it is an opportunity to drive awareness of our organization’s relevance and impact across the cancer care continuum.

    The theme of the 2022 annual meeting is “Advancing Equitable Cancer Care Through Innovation,” and will focus on how by innovating across boundaries, we can bring down barriers to access and make care more equitable, convenient, and efficient for patients worldwide. Attendees include ASCO members, National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, cancer care clinicians, pharmaceutical company representatives, and advocacy groups.

    ACS will have a strong presence at the event, with nearly a dozen staff and ACS-funded researchers presenting during the meeting. The organization will also host a reception for key partners as well as a booth in the exhibition hall to demonstrate how the organization is impacting the lives of people facing cancer.

    A key goal of the organization’s presence at the meeting is to emphasize ACS is the only organization that integrates advocacy, discovery, and direct patient support, which measurably improves lives, and that as a global leader in the cancer fight, we know cancer affects everyone, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. We are working to ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.

    ASCO is an important partner for ACS. In early 2022, the two organizations launched a collaboration involving content-sharing on ASCO’s and

    ACS staff and ACS-funded researchers presenting at the conference: 

      • Robin Yabroff: Education Session, Cancer Groundshot: Addressing the Global and National Inequities in Cancer Care
      • Arif Kamal, MD, MBA, MHS: Presentation in the Patient Advocate Lounge
      • Hyuna Sung, PhD: Poster Session, Symptoms and Survivorship, Racial differences in cardiovascular disease mortality among cancer survivors
      • Xuesong Han, PhD: Poster Session, Symptoms and Survivorship, Suicide risk among patients with cancer in the United States, 2000-2016
      • Jason Zheng, PhD: Poster Discussion Session, Symptoms and Survivorship, Association of parental cancer and minor child’s unmet economic needs in food, housing, and transportation
      • Mark Fleury of ACS CAN: Education Session: Strategies to Advance Equity in Cancer Clinical Trials
      • Xuesong Han, PhD: Poster Session, Prevention, Risk Reduction, and Hereditary Cancer, Racial and ethnic disparities in lifestyle changes during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the socioeconomic and psychosocial mechanisms
      • Leticia Noguiera, PhD: Poster Session, Health Services Research and Quality Improvement, Racial disparities in receipt of guideline-concordant care for early-onset colorectal cancer in the U.S.
      • Sylvia Kewei Shi, MPH: Poster Session, Oncologist consideration of patient health insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs for genomic testing in treatment decision 
      • Jingxuan Zhao, MPH: Poster Session, Health Services Research and Quality Improvement
    • Changes in cancer-related mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States

      • Xuesong Han, PhD: Oral Abstract, Care Delivery and Regulatory Policy: Association between the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion and survival in young adults newly diagnosed with cancer

    Be sure to follow along on social media to see the latest from ASCO during the next few days.

    ACSon Twitter:

    ASCO social channels: 

     For questions related to ACS participation at ASCO, please contact Kathleen Goss, vice president, regional cancer support.

  • ACS stands allied against cancer with the LGBTQ+ community

    June is not only the start of summer, it is also a month to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s contributions to science, art, culture, and so much more. It is a month rooted in advocacy for equity for this community. While we have come far in achieving equitable treatment thanks to those who began this movement, we know there is still work to do.

    The American Cancer Society stands, allied against cancer, with the LGBTQ+ community. We believe everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to live free from cancer. That’s why ACS is using Pride Month as an opportunity to share information about getting screened and to celebrate LGBTQ+ employees, volunteers, and collaborators. The theme of the month is “allied against cancer.”

    Messaging in June will appear on ACS master brand social channels, on, and in regional and partner organization social channels.

    We know disparities exist for LGBTQ+ people: they are often diagnosed later as a result of lower or no insurance, and there is a bias among health care providers or a lack of understanding that impacts outcomes. ACS is taking action. Look for proof points on social media about the work the organization is doing focused on this community. You can also learn more about ACS CAN’s work in this area at

  • Celebrating National Cancer Survivors Month

    ​Join us to honor survivors on June 5.

    June is National Cancer Survivors Month, with June 5 celebrated as National Cancer Survivors Day. This is an ideal time to celebrate survivors as the heart of the American Cancer Society.

    ACS will seek to engage people living with cancer during this month, as well as caregivers, friends, and family of people with cancer. Messages will encourage people to learn more about managing their health as a cancer survivor or to honor a survivor with a donation, particularly on June 5. Look for messaging on ACS Masterbrand social media channels, in email campaigns, and online. Social media assets will be available to help encourage giving in honor of a survivor and will feature specific messaging to support Cancer Survivors Day donations and information.

    With 16.9 million cancer survivors alive today in the US and 22.1 million projected by 2030, cancer survivorship is an important issue. Most cancer survivors – 67% – were diagnosed more than five years ago. ACS is working to make sure no one feels alone at any point in their cancer journey, from prevention to detection and diagnosis, through treatment and survivorship, and for some, the end of life.

  • Partners to help provide free flights for cancer patients

    GCI and Alaska Airlines join forces with ACS to increase access to care.

    GCI, the largest provider of telecommunications services in Alaska, and Alaska Airlines have partnered with ACS to provide complementary airline miles to cancer patients in need of transportation across remote areas of Alaska. The initiative will award one million miles per year, during the next three years, to Alaskans most in need of receiving potentially lifesaving cancer treatment.

    The state of Alaska has a population of approximately 733,000 people, with more than 239,000 living in the most remote areas of the state which can be hundreds of miles from cancer care. While Alaska has 13 critical access medical facilities and 33 federally qualified health centers, there are no rural health clinics to serve communities located away from major metropolitan areas. The generosity of GCI and Alaska Airlines will allow many Alaskans in need to access quality care.

    Call 800-227-2345 or chat at to learn more.

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