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Lyda Hill Philanthropies gives ACS $4.6M to launch Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas

​Texas ranks 44 out of 50 states for HPV vaccination rates among children ages 13-17

Lyda Hill Philanthropies is donating $4.6 million to support the American Cancer Society's campaign to reduce  HPV-related cancers in 26 counties in North Texas. Visit its website.

Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas is a three-year project focused on increasing preteen vaccination rates through key community and health system partnerships; evidence-based health care provider interventions; engaging state-level coalitions to increase availability and utilization of the HPV vaccine; and a public campaign. The goal is to have 80 percent of 13-year-old boys and girls in the targeted counties fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by 2026.

Just  under 40% of Texas children aged 13-17 have received the complete vaccination, which includes  two shots. That’s below the national average of 49% and ranks 44th among the 50 states. The share in Dallas County is 36%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Approximately 3,070 Texans are diagnosed every year with cancer caused by HPV. HPV infection is known to cause six different types of cancer including cervical and throat cancer. While HPV is very common, and most HPV infections go away on their own, there is no way to know if an infection will lead to cancer. 

On June 7, the South Division is following up this major gift announcement with a forum in Arlington called Take a Shot! North Texas HPV Forum. It will be an important step in providing community healthcare providers with information on how to prevent HPV-related cancers, how to eliminate vaccine hesitancy, and how to reach an 80% completion rate by 2026. 

“Cancer impacts us all, and we are fortunate to have a vaccine that is known to prevent six types of cancer," said Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. “We are enthusiastic to support the American Cancer Society’s Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas effort to reduce the burden of HPV-related cancer across our community by increasing vaccination rates.”

Ms. Hill is a Dallas entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chairman of LH Capital, Inc., a private investment firm.  Through her for-profit and not-for-profit investments, Ms. Hill is committed to funding game-changing advances in science and nature, to empowering nonprofit organizations, and to improving the local communities of greatest importance to her: North Texas and Colorado Springs.

Read much more in this Dallas News article.

  • ​Op-Ed by Gary Reedy on eliminating surprise colorectal cancer screening bills for seniors runs in USA Today

    ​On May 31, USA Today ran an opinion piece from American Cancer Society (ACS) and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) CEO Gary Reedy calling on the president and the administration to close a loophole that is resulting in surprise bills for seniors on Medicare. Read it here.

    Current law requires insurers to cover preventive services with an ‘A’ or ‘B’ rating from the United States Preventive Services Task Force with no cost sharing for patients. Colonoscopies get an ‘A’ rating for those aged 50 to 75. However, in Medicare if a pre-cancerous polyp is removed during the course of a routine screening colonoscopy, the test is being recoded from preventive to diagnostic and seniors are waking up to a bill in the hundreds of dollars. A third of seniors on Medicare are below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and unexpected bills are unaffordable.

    Patients have told ACS that the potential for a bill is causing them to delay or skip the lifesaving screening. An analysis done for the ACS CAN shows that up to 2,000 colorectal cancer cases could be avoided each year among seniors if Medicare were to make this change and treat screening colonoscopies when polyps are removed as a preventive service.

    The previous administration closed this loophole in private insurance. In the USA Today commentary, Gary calls on the president and current administration to fix the problem for seniors on Medicare. The fix has bipartisan support and the president has been on record declaring surprise billing is a top priority. 

  • ACS hits a homerun with Minor League Baseball sun safety initiative this Memorial Day

    ​If you are one of the 40 million Americans heading to a Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) this summer, you just might catch a glimpse of the American Cancer Society's nationwide "Cover Your Bases" initiative to promote sun safety measures and educate baseball fans about the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. 

    For the third consecutive year, ACS will partner with participating MiLB teams to provide free Blue Lizard Sunscreen samples to fans, players, staff, and all other attendees at their games.

    The annual campaign has impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals since its launch in 2017, not only providing sun protection, but also information on skin cancer and measures fans can take to help reduce their overall risk. Last year, MiLB clubs distributed more than 100,000 free samples of sunscreen across 39 states. 

    This year, from May 27 - June 30, more than 120 MiLB teams are participating, and they plan to double their contribution to ACS through this program to half a million dollars. A real homerun!

    Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and one of the best ways to help prevent it is by protecting the skin from excessive UV rays, including sun exposure and indoor tanning devices. ACS advises people to seek shade whenever possible, wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing, and use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

    "The American Cancer Society is proud to continue our work with Minor League Baseball," said Sharon Byers, chief development, marketing, and communications officer. "We deeply appreciate their support and the opportunity to share these important public health messages."

    To find a local game, visit Visit for more information about our partnership with Minor League Baseball.

  • Merck Foundation invests $1.99M in our global patient navigation work

    ​Grant bolsters ACS patient navigation efforts in Africa

    The American Cancer Society’s Global Cancer Control efforts got a boost today with the announcement of a five-year, $1.99 million grant to improve support and access to care for people living with cancer in low- and middle-income countries. The funding will support our patient navigation work, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. 

    More than 70% of the 9 million cancer-related deaths worldwide are in resource-limited settings, where patients face barriers to timely diagnosis and high-quality care. Patient navigators play an important role in supporting patients from diagnosis through treatment. 

    Our global navigation initiative is focused on helping our partners build their capacity to deliver this important work. We focus on sharing what we know with our partners – best practices learned in more than 100 years of fighting cancer – and helping them apply these lessons in ways that are relevant and attainable even in low-resource settings.  

    The grant will help ACS fortify our patient navigation program at Kenyatta National Hospital and adapt it for the Uganda Cancer Institute, which serves about 200 people a day and has a high need for navigation services. This grant is a first step toward expansion of patient navigation programs to help more patients in resource-limited settings receive timely, high-quality care. As part of this effort, ACS will develop a comprehensive guide and toolkit to develop and implement patient navigation programs, designed specifically for health facilities in low- and middle-income countries. Lessons learned from collaborating with hospitals in Kenya and Uganda will be incorporated into this guide, which ACS will pilot in health institutions in Asia and Latin America.

    Hear from Gladys Mukosi, a clinical navigator at Kenyatta National Hospital, and find out more about the navigation project on the MSD Corporate Responsibility website. Merck & Co., Inc., headquartered in Kenilworth, NJ, is known as MSD outside of the U.S. and Canada. It is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.

  • MaineHealth recognized for high colorectal cancer screening rates

    ​Did you know Maine has the highest CRC screening rates in the country?

    Celebrating past success and with a gaze fixed on the future, our Chief Cancer Control Officer Rich Wender, MD, visited the MaineHealth system this month to recognize their work in colorectal cancer control. 

    Dr. Wender presented MaineHealth with an award recognizing the health system’s collaboration and achievement in the 80% by 2018 campaign. The system is at a 77.5% colorectal cancer screening rates with three of their hospitals exceeding 80%. 

    Also, he spent the day with MaineHealth leadership discussing the Society’s Cancer Control Blueprint and presenting on the 80% in Every Community. 

    The state of Maine has the highest screening rates in the country, at 75.9%, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control. These rates are the percentage of adults aged 50 to 75 who reported being up-to-date with their screening in 2016.

    TOP PHOTO: MaineHealth leadership accepting the award included, left to right, Naomi Anderson Schucker, MPH, senior director, Prevention & Wellness, Center for Health Improvement; Marin Johnson, program manager, Center for Health Improvement; Gina Quinn-Skillings, MD, senior medical director; Scot Remick, MD, chief, Oncology, MaineHealth Cancer Care Network; Joan Boomsma, MD, chief medical officer; Dr. Wender; Nicole Heanssler, health systems manager, Hospitals; Elisa Madore, program manager, Mission Delivery; Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH; chief health improvement officer; and Evan Barnathan, MD, resident, Preventative Medicine, and clinical advisor for the CRC Dashboard Action Team.

    Society staff also in attendance, but, not pictured, were Lynn Basilio, MS, senior manager, State & Primary Care Systems; Kerri Medeiros, MPA, senior manager, Hospital Systems; and Magda Alden, MSW, LCSW, ACS patient navigator, Maine Medical Center.

  • Dr. Len addresses our new goal to reduce cancer deaths

    ​Are we, as a nation, up to the challenge?

    Check out the latest entry in  Dr. Len's Cancer BlogIn it, J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP, our interim chief medical and scientific officer, discusses our recently announced goal to reduce cancer deaths 40% by 2035.

    Achieving that would mean 1.3 million fewer premature deaths from cancer between 2020 and 2035. Remarkably, it would mean 122,500 fewer deaths from cancer in 2035 alone.  

    Can we achieve it? Read the blog to find out.

    Here are six behavioral changes many Americans will have to make if we are to be successful: 

    1. Quit smoking

    2. Lose weight

    3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

    4. Reduce consumption of red and processed meats

    5. Drink less alcohol

    6. Get more exercise 

    Dr. Len notes that what you don’t see on this list are some of the things that could take us beyond that 40% goal. Things like immunotherapy, which is just beginning to have an impact on cancer death rates, lung cancer screening, advances in the early detection of cancer, and HPV vaccination.

  • ACS aims to reduce overall cancer mortality 40% by 2035

    After continued work on tobacco control, the next most important effort is to control excess body weight

    Today, the American Cancer Society released a set of bold, nationwide challenge goals to reduce overall cancer mortality 40 percent between 2015 and 2035 – which if realized would result in approximately 1.3 million fewer cancer deaths during that period.

    The news was made public with the publication of the latest chapter of our Blueprint for Cancer Control in the 21st Century, in our peer-reviewed journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. This series of scientific journal articles, released over the past year, describes our organization's vision and defines the path for how cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment can reduce cancer suffering and death.

    In 1996, the Society set a challenge goal to reduce mortality from all cancers combined in the U.S. by 50 percent between 1990 and 2015. An evaluation at the end of that period found mortality rate declined 26 percent over that time. Recent research suggests that cancer mortality in the U.S. can still be lowered considerably by applying known interventions broadly and equitably. In light of that, the ACS Board of Directors commissioned ACS researchers to determine new challenge goals for reductions in cancer mortality by 2035.

    Using statistical modeling, ACS investigators first estimated the average annual percent decline in overall cancer death rates during 2001-2015 among the U.S. population at-large (1.5 percent) and among Americans with a college education (2.6 percent). They then applied the faster decline among those with a college education to the entire population starting in 2020 to project future potential improvement, estimating that death rates in 2035 would drop by 38.3 percent (approximately 40 percent) from 2015 levels. Reaching the goal of a 40 percent drop in overall cancer mortality could lead to approximately 1.3 million fewer cancer deaths during the 15-year span.

    "The faster drops in cancer mortality among college graduates largely reflect differences in prevalence of cancer risk factors, in the uptake of cancer screening, and in access to and utilization of high-quality care," said RichWender, MD, our chief cancer control officer and co-author of the report. "It's clear that not all segments of the U.S. populations have benefited equally from the advances made against cancer, and that cancer mortality could be lowered considerably by applying known interventions equitably and broadly."

    The authors also map out a potential pathway to the goal. They estimate that if by 2025, the overall prevalence of several major cancer risk factors (smoking, excess body weight, low fruit and vegetable consumption, red and processed meat consumption, low fiber consumption, low calcium consumption, alcohol intake, physical inactivity, and nonadherence to evidence-based use of tamoxifen/raloxifene for breast cancer prevention) could be lowered to rates that currently exist among college graduates, and if levels of colorectal and breast cancer screening could do the same by 2030, there would be a 20.5 percent drop in the overall cancer death rate by 2035, achieving half the goal. If risk factor prevalence and screening rates could become even more optimal, then the overall cancer death rate could drop by 33.5 percent, reaching 85 percent of the challenge goal.

    In addition to the overall cancer mortality goal, the researchers estimated challenge goals for the four cancers that together account for nearly half of all cancer deaths and have been the main driver for the steady decline in the overall cancer death rates over the past 25 years: cancers of the lung, prostate, breast, and colorectum. The goals target those sites with mortality decreases of 50 percent for lung cancer, 55 percent for colorectal cancer, 40 percent for female breast cancer, and 55 percent for prostate cancer between 2015 and 2035.

    "The greatest pay-off in terms of cancer deaths prevented is through continued work on tobacco control," write the authors. But they say the next most important effort is one to control excess body weight. "This would require a change in the behavior of the U.S. population and in U.S.'s culture of a magnitude very similar to the changes regarding smoking since the mid-1960s."

    They note though that the obesity epidemic and increasing unhealthy diets are likely to continue, making targeted interventions necessary to slow down or reverse these unfavorable trends.

    Blueprint resources for staff:

  • Groundbreaking ceremony held for our Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge in Dallas

    ​On May 7, the American Cancer Society broke ground on a 40,000-square-foot Hope Lodge facility in Dallas that will be located on property donated by Baylor Scott & White Health and adjacent to its Baylor University Medical Center campus.

    The facility will be named the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge in recognition of their $7.5 million lead gift, part of a $25 million campaign.  

    “Facing a cancer diagnosis and enduring treatment is already daunting enough, but worrying about travel, lodging, and other necessities can be a huge burden,” said Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFL team (pictured in the smaller photo with our CEO Gary Reedy). “Our family is grateful for the opportunity to help those who are in need of these types of services and exceptionally proud of what the Hope Lodge will bring to our community.”

    Once the doors are opened in 2021, the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge is expected to provide more than 18,000 nights of free lodging annually. The four-story building will include 50 private guest suites, each with two beds and a private bathroom. In addition, the facility will feature four kitchen areas, common living spaces, dining room, laundry facilities, library, meditation room, and outdoor garden. Our South Region headquarters also will be housed at this location.

    “The American Cancer Society is committed to removing the emotional, physical, and financial burdens that many cancer patients must face when they travel away from home for treatment,” said Jeff Fehlis, executive vice president, South Region. 

    The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge capital campaign, conducted in collaboration with Baylor Scott & White Dallas Foundation, surpassed its fundraising goal with extraordinary support from generous individuals and organizations. In addition to the Jones family, other major donors included the Don and Trudy Steen Charitable Foundation, Carmen and Jeff York, Moody Foundation, The Horner Family, Mabee Foundation, and Susan and Bob Shapard. 

    Nearly $32 million has been raised for this project to date, and ACS and the Baylor Scott & White Dallas Foundation continue to seek philanthropic support for ongoing operating expenses.

    The American Cancer Society operates more than 30 Hope Lodge facilities nationwide. Each Hope Lodge community offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when their treatment is away from home. Since 1984, we have provided more than 5.6 million nights of lodging to patients.

    TOP PHOTO: From left, Charlotte Anderson, Robin Robinson, Jim Hinton (partially hidden), Jim Turner, Julie Turner, Jerry Jones, Gene Jones, Gary Reedy, Jeff Fehlis, and Trudy Steen.

  • Dallas Cowboys owner and his wife donate $7.5M to Dallas Hope Lodge project

    Groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for tomorrow, May 7. You can watch it here at 3 p.m. ET.

    The news broke Sunday in the Dallas Morning News: Dallas is about to get its first American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, thanks to a $7.5 million gift from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his wife Gene and property donated in Deep Ellum by Baylor Scott & White Health.

    Tomorrow, May 7, the Joneses and executives from ACS, Baylor Scott & White, and Baylor’s foundation will turn ceremonial shovels for a $25 million facility that will bear the Gene and Jerry Jones family name. The 40,000-square-foot facility will be adjacent to the Baylor University Medical Center campus, and it will house our South Region headquarters, as well.

    Scheduled to open in early 2021, the Lodge will include 50 private guest suites, each with two beds and a private bathroom. It will feature common living areas, five kitchen areas, a dining room, a pantry, laundry facilities, a library, a meditation room, and an outdoor healing garden. It is expected to provide more than 18,000 nights of free lodging a year.

    Pictured above holding a rendering of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Hope Lodge, are Jim Hinton, CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health, left, and Jeff Fehlis, our EVP, South Region. The photo is courtesy of Dallas Morning News staff photographer Tom Fox.

    The Dallas lodge will be the third in Texas. Lubbock opened in 2010, and Houston, which received $1 million from the Joneses, is scheduled to open next year.

    Read the much longer story in the Dallas Morning News. Also, check out the coverage on the local NBC TV website.

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