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ACS leaders lend expertise to national media stories

Dr. Kamal and Dr. Knudsen provided authoritative voices for stories on GMA, CNN.

Members of the American Cancer Society Executive Team are lending their expertise to national media stories this week.

On Jan. 5 Chief Patient Officer Dr. Arif Kamal was interviewed LIVE on Good Morning America as GMA marks 10 years since Robin Roberts' lifesaving bone marrow transplant. He was interviewed alongside of Dr. Ron Jacob of Be The Match, which specializes in enrolling potential donors. 

Dr. Kamal outlined what patients can expect when receiving a bone marrow transplant. He also provided some perspective on the match probability rate increasing from about 25% 10 years ago to now 50% to 75% in certain populations as additional relatives are able to be screened and the bone marrow donor registry has grown.

"There is a ton of hope, and a lot has happened in the last 10 years," said Dr. Kamal.

'Double diagnosis'

Chief Executive Officer Dr. Karen Knudsen was interviewed by Good Morning America after tennis legend Martina Navratilova announced on Jan. 2 that she has throat cancer, as well as a recurrence of breast cancer, which she was first diagnosed with in 2010.

“It’s actually less uncommon than you would think for individuals to be diagnosed with more than one cancer over their lifetime,” Dr. Knudsen told GMA. “It does make treatment a little more complicated, but the bright light here is that she was able to identify both cancers at early stage.”

Oral and oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed at an early stage have about an 85% five-year survival rate, and a localized stage I breast cancer diagnosis has a five-year survival rate of 99%.

“We would expect her prognosis to be exceptionally favorable,” said Dr. Knudsen.

‘Early detection is key’

Dr. Knudsen also spoke with CNN underscoring our message to ‘get screened.’ She praised Navratilova for listening to her body and highlighted the importance of cancer screening.

“This is something that she identified based on knowledge of her body and something feeling amiss and taking action. Being an advocate for herself led to identification at stage I, which is so important,” Dr. Knudsen said. “Early detection is key to improve outcomes.”

ACS supports Martina Navratilova’s bravery in her diagnosis announcement. A tweet directed all to learn more about throat cancers and breast cancers on cancer.org.


  • January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

    Learn more and find out how you can help promote lifesaving work.

    January is not only the start to a new year, it is also the start of Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. ACS is using this key external moment to remind people that regular screening for cervical cancer can save lives, as these tests can detect cervical cancers before they start, or early – when it may be easier to treat.

    Key messages and outreach for the month will focus on people with a cervix, ages 25 to 65, and parents and guardians of children ages 9 to 12. Messages will also focus on: 

    • The ACS belief that everyone should have the opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer, 
    • HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. When given between the ages of 9 and 12, the vaccine can prevent more than 90% of HPV cancers, including most cervical cancers.
    • Messaging will encourage people to talk with a doctor about which tests are right for them or to prevent six cancers with the HPV vaccine.   

    Team members and volunteers may notice promotional work around this month in direct mail campaigns, emails, and on ACS brand social media channels. Cancer.org will feature Cervical Cancer Awareness Month during the second half of the month, beginning Jan. 16. The month will also include promotion on the Hard Rock marquee in New York City’s Times Square.

    What you should know about cervical cancer: 

    • About 14,100 new cervical cancer cases and about 4,280 cervical cancer deaths occurred in the United States in 2022. 
    • Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for American women, but the death rate over the past 50 years has dropped by about 70% with the increased use of screening.  
    • Approximately half of the cervical cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are in women who were never screened, and an additional 10% of cancers occur among women not screened within the past five years. 
    • Cervical cancer incidence and death rates are highest for Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Hispanic Latino people.  
    • Non-Hispanic Black women, after controlling for age, stage, histology, and initial treatment type, are 80% more likely to die and have a 30% higher incidence rate than non-Hispanic White women.

    What you can do to this month to help: 

    Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month

    January is also Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month. ACS will use this key moment to highlight critical messaging for this group. 

    What should you know about fire fighters and cancer?

    • Cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among fire fighters today.  
    • The number-one cause of cancer among fire fighters is not from the fire itself, but from the occupational exposures to the toxins and carcinogens at the fire scene and exposure to diesel exhaust.  
    • Fire fighters in the United States and Canada are developing job-related cancers at a rate higher than ever before. 
    • ACS has an existing partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters. This collaboration is providing new resources, tools, and prevention techniques to help protect fire fighters with the hope of preventing future disease.

    Team members and volunteers who are interested can learn more about this topic and amplify content from ACS brand channels on social media. 


  • ACS completes pilot Project ECHO on LGBTQ+ and cancer care

    North Central Region project focused on primary care lens.

    The American Cancer Society Patient Support Pillar team recently completed a seven-month Project ECHO focused on “LGBTQ+ and Cancer Care through the Primary Care Lens.” This pilot project was led by ACS team members Elizabeth Holtsclaw, cancer support strategic partnership manager, and Rachael King, senior director, cancer support strategic partnerships manager. The project was partially funded by a Merck grant and included  participation from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

    Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a hub-and-spoke tele-mentoring environment conducted virtually. Hubs include a facilitator and expert faculty who share best practices and contribute to learning through case-based and didactic learning. Spokes learn from each other and experts from across the United States. Since 2018, ACS has used this model to educate health care professionals and to help reduce health disparities.

    The goal of this ECHO series was to help primary care practices increase their knowledge of the unique needs and barriers for cancer prevention, screening, and early detection for the LGBTQ+ population. Topics included creating welcoming and affirming communication, shared decision making, HPV vaccination, reproductive tract cancer in sexual minority women, breast/chest cancer screening, and cancers among gay and bisexual men.

    ACS team members and volunteers can learn more about this project’s work, review resources, and recorded sessions here

    This project has already had a tangible impact, Holtsclaw said. The Vanderbilt University Primary Care team in Nashville, TN, for example, was inspired at the June ECHO session and realized they had significant opportunity to increase their standard of care. 

    The Nashville-based practice has since taken several steps to address opportunities, such as including pronouns on staff name badges and collecting sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) from patients. The practice created a “LGBTQ+ Inclusion Committee,” the members of which have all participated in ECHO sessions. This multidisciplinary committee includes everyone in the clinic who engages with patients. The practice is treating this as a full quality improvement project including creating a process map for how LGBTQ+ patients receive care in the clinic. 

    “The committee plans to continue to meet now that the ECHO has finished and are hoping they will be able to expand this best practice to other Vanderbilt clinics,” Holtsclaw said. “Our team at ACS is excited about this progress and other examples from this ECHO and we are hopeful we can continue to grow this work.”


  • ACS and iWeave partner to provide 600 ethnic hair wigs to communities in need

    People of color have a disproportionately high cancer burden compared to other communities. To help women of color with cancer cope with hair loss during treatment, Black-owned hair company iWeave International, LLC and the Starks Family Foundation has donated 600 ethnic hair wigs to the American Cancer Society for distribution in under-resourced communities.

    “It’s important that someone going through cancer treatment continue to feel like themselves,” said Tawana Thomas-Johnson, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at the American Cancer Society. “Products and wigs that represent all ethnicities should be accessible to everyone to assist in easing the burden of changes during the cancer journey. We’re excited to work with iWeave to offer these important items to those who need them.”

    When a person with cancer loses their hair, wigs are not always covered by insurance, causing out of pocket expenses. Additionally, it’s hard to find hair that matches a person of color’s natural coily texture in cancer focused retail stores or medical salons, a burden not usually discussed.

    “Our partnership with the American Cancer Society is our largest donation to date,” said Steven I. Campbell, CEO of iWeave International, LLC. “I’ve seen the courage, bravery and spiritual resilience of women as they fight cancer. We hope these wigs give them the confidence they need to thrive.”

    The American Cancer Society will leverage the organization’s relationships with health systems and national diverse organizations to distribute the wigs to those in need, while broadening education around additional treatment resources.

    The American Cancer Society is committed to ensuring that all people have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. The organization ensures people impacted by cancer have the support, information, and resources they need, all aimed toward eliminating cancer disparities.

  • Nov. 17 was the 47th Great American Smokeout

    ACS encourages year-round commitment to a smoke- and tobacco-free life.

    Thursday, Nov.17, may be just one day – but for people who smoke, it could be the right day to commit to a new direction.

    Thursday is the 47th annual Great American Smokeout® (GASO), which the American Cancer Society uses as an opportunity to encourage people to commit to a smoke- and tobacco-free life – not just for a day, but year-round. This annual event, held on the third Thursday in November, is designed to encourage people who smoke to start a journey toward a smoke-free life. By focusing on one day, and one step, this event acknowledges quitting smoking isn’t easy – that it takes time, and a plan. It doesn’t happen overnight. 

    Smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. In the US, about 34 million American adults still smoke cigarettes. We know smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year – that’s about 1 in 5 deaths. While we are making progress in the US against tobacco, with smoking rates declining significantly during the past few decades, that progress has been inconsistent across different groups.Team members and volunteers can help spread the word about this important event by sharing key messages on social media and amplifying content from ACS social media channels and using the hashtag #GreatAmericanSmokeout. A few key points to keep in mind: 

    • It’s never too late to quit smoking.
    • The decision to quit smoking is one only you can make.
    • There are many ways to quit, and some work better than others.
    • Quitting smoking is a process and success may look different for different people.
    • Quitting may not be easy, but you can do it with the right support, and the American Cancer Society can help.
    • There is no better time to quit. The CDC lists smoking as one of the conditions that might put a person at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
    • Quitting smoking is a process, and success may look different for different people. There are many ways to quit smoking, and some work better than others. The American Cancer Society can share the steps to quit smoking and help find quit-smoking programs, resources, and support to increase chances of quitting successfully.

    GASO began in the 1970s – a time when smoking and secondhand smoke exposure were common – and has helped change attitudes about smoking across the country since that time.

    Learn more about GASO at cancer.org/smokeout and encourage people in your life who smoke to visit that site to make a plan to quit. Available resources include the new ACS free smoking cessation program, based on ACS-funded tobacco cessation research Empowered To Quit.


  • ACS holds first-ever Cancer Care at Home Summit

    Groundbreaking event brings together thought leaders from across the nation.

    The American Cancer Society held its first-ever Cancer Care at Home Summit Oct. 26 in Cambridge, MA, bringing together high-level leaders and stakeholders across the nation to help define barriers to delivering cancer care at home. 

    Organized by the Patient Support Pillar, this unique event was designed to identify not only barriers to at-home cancer care, but also ways to address them – so together this group could create a vision and clear steps forward.

    The event was held at the Philips North America Innovation Center, who contributed the unique space for the meeting.

    “Cancer care is rapidly evolving. Though much attention is given to new and more personalized treatments, how those treatments are delivered, and how those patients are supported, also are key areas positioned for personalization,” said ACS Chief Patient Officer Dr. Arif Kamal. “One tactic growing in favor to increase patient-centricity is decentralized care, where the infrastructure and processes to cure cancer and forward the science is brought to the locations that patients reside.” 

    An elite group of more than 30 executive leaders including CEOs, chief medical officers, EVPs, directors, and others attended this invitation-only event from multiple sectors and organizations, including providers, investors, payors, researchers, policy makers. Their coming together was a “real sign of thought leadership in a very fragmented area,” Dr. Kamal said. “Each person was able to contribute to defining the problem and setting opportunities that ACS can steward going forward.” Organizations represented ranged from United Health Group to the US Oncology Network, the Mayo Clinic, Walmart, and many others.

    The group focused on four major issues in cancer care at home: 

    1. Logistical/supply chain issues,
    2. Financial/payment concerns,
    3. Challenges with federal regulations, and 
    4. Patient and clinician acceptance.

    “This movement holds significant possibility to close health disparities and improve outcomes, but without careful planning and execution, may produce the opposite effect,” Dr. Kamal said. “Our charge as national leaders across multiple sectors is to discuss the knowns, the unknowns, and the potential success factors and challenges, to ensure that all facing a cancer diagnosis have an equal and just opportunity for more, better days.”

    “One of my priorities is to create collaborations with pivotal organizations in cancer care delivery, particularly those at the forefront of innovation,” he said. “This is a terrific example of one of those key innovations. I couldn’t be more pleased with how this inaugural event turned out and I look forward to continuing the work this group kickstarted together.”

    Learn more at:


  • End-of-year advertising campaign launched Nov. 1

    New ACS campaign focuses on “Meant to be Together” idea.

    The American Cancer Society is launching a national end-of-year advertising campaign Tuesday in markets across the county. The campaign is designed to build empathy among those who don’t realize their lives have been immediately impacted by cancer and ACS by making cancer personal to them, ultimately motivating people to donate to the organization.

    The campaign leverages what ACS has learned from recent brand refresh work, Chief Marketing Officer Kymm Martinez said Tuesday in a message to team members and volunteer leaders. “This compelling and breakthrough paid media campaign builds on the winning insight that ACS is present at every cancer moment, in every cancer journey,” she said.

    The core message for the campaign focuses on the fact that donations to ACS “ensure no cancer journey, present or future, has to be walked alone.” A new TV spot uses the campaign idea “Meant to be Together.” Be sure to check out the sneak peek of the video. 

    “Showcasing a caregiver and the emotional moment when cancer interrupts the normal, everyday life of a younger person is not only relatable, but it also reinforces ACS’ awareness that a cancer diagnosis often impacts multiple lives,” Kymm said in Tuesday’s message. “Featuring our Hope Lodge program also brings fresh and new information while connecting ACS to direct patient support and tangible impact via an authentic and personal approach.”

    The end-of-year campaign will also include a variety of paid media assets on TV, streaming audio, digital display, social, search, and out-of-home advertising – in both English and Spanish. Creative assets will be repurposed to create new PSAs with a “learn more” call to action. Additional year-end work will focus on Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. More information and resources for that campaign will be available soon. 

    “As you know, many people are aware of the amazing work we do as an organization on the research front. With this new campaign, we shift the focus toward the positive impact the American Cancer Society has on the lives and relationships of people affected by cancer,” Kymm said. 

    Team members and volunteers are encouraged to engage with and amplify content on national social media channels, beginning Nov. 1. 

    “This campaign is an opportunity for ACS to shine a light on our important work during a critical time in the nonprofit space,” Kymm said. “We are excited to watch our newly refreshed brand come to life.”


  • We work to mitigate cancer burden, health disparities in Indigenous communities

    ​Mark Native American / Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month in several ways.

    November kicks off several awareness months and key external moments for ACS. Here are a few things you may not know and what you can do to help mark one of these occasions.

     

    Native American / Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month

    In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994. 

    During this month, ACS acknowledges and works to mitigate the cancer burden and health disparities in Indigenous communities. We honor the ancestral stewards of this land and their descendants living in more than 1,000 Tribes, Nations, Bands, Pueblos, Communities, and Native Villages. We acknowledge the Tribal leaders, Tribal members, and community members who dedicate their lives to the field of tobacco prevention and control, cancer screening, environmental health, health literacy, community education, and policies, which benefit us all.

    During this month, ACS will raise awareness about cancer risk and screening recommendations in the American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) population, urge AIAN communities to quit commercial tobacco use, and recognize the contributions of the AIAN community in the cancer space. Efforts will encourage members of the AIAN community to talk to a doctor about which screening tests may be right for them and encourage community members with messaging including, “Decades of research have found many reasons to quit tobacco. Start your quit journey today.” The campaign will drive people to www.cancer.org/Get-Screened.

    What you should know

    • In 2020, an estimated 9.7 million people identified as AIAN, representing about 3% of the US population.
    • Continued systemic racism has resulted in limited access to health care, high-quality education, and economic opportunity for AIANs.
    • More than half (54%) of AIANs live in rural areas or small towns where access to health care professionals, hospital services, and specialty care is limited. Increased distance to providers is an even greater challenge for rural residents who are poor.
    • Nationally, cancer incidence among AIANs is higher than among Whites for lung, colorectal, and kidney cancers, as well as cancer associated with infectious agents (liver, stomach, cervix).
    • Cancer is generally diagnosed at a later stage in AIANs than in Whites, with some of the largest disparities for breast and stomach cancers.
    • Later-stage diagnosis and lower survival among AIANs likely reflect less access to high-quality health care and other obstacles to early detection and treatment.
    • Although smoking has typically been more common in men than in women, the reverse is true among AIANs, with current prevalence 27% in women versus 24% in men.
    • Both historically and contemporarily, AIANs have the highest smoking prevalence and the fewest quit attempts of any major racial/ethnic group in the US. The relative gap in smoking prevalence between AIANs and Whites has widened from 30% in the early 1990s to 56% in 2019. Reasons for the higher rates of smoking in AIANs are complex and include lower socioeconomic status (SES), targeted advertising, and deceptive tobacco product marketing.

    What you can do

    • Help ACS raise awareness about cancer disparities faced among this group, and about cancer risk and screening recommendations in the AIAN population.
    • Learn more from The Library of Congress about this important awareness month.
    • Check out a special section in Cancer Facts and Figures on cancer in the Native Indian and Alaska Native population.
    • Amplify ACS brand social media posts on the topic.

  • Honoring the many roles caregivers fill in a cancer journey

    ACS has available a breadth of resources and info specific to caregivers.

    November kicks off several awareness months and key external moments for ACS. Here are a few things you may not know and what you can do to help mark one of these occasions.

    National Family Caregiver Awareness Month

    A cancer diagnosis affects close friends and family, too. Caregivers may be partners, family members, or close friends. Most often, they’re not trained for the caregiver job. Many times, they’re the lifeline of the person with cancer and an extension of the health care team.

    Caregivers have many roles, and these roles change as the patient’s needs change during and after cancer treatment. No matter what stage of the cancer journey, caregivers have a huge influence on how their loved one deals with their illness. Caregivers are a key reason why someone’s cancer journey is not walked alone.

    Caring for someone with cancer, taking on new responsibilities, and worrying about the future can be exhausting at the very least, and it can quickly lead to burnout. When you’re busy caring for your loved one, it’s important to take care of yourself, too. Eating healthy, getting regular exercise, and making time for self-care can help in keeping some balance in your life during this stressful time. And, don’t forget to stay up to date on your own cancer screenings.

    What you should know

    • As of April 2022, ACS is currently investing almost $13 million in research that includes family members and caregivers through 19 grants.
    • Since 1998, the American Cancer Society has invested nearly $44 million in research that includes family members and caregivers of persons with cancer.
    • Since January 2021, there have been just over 200,000 unique visits to cancer.org/caregivers, including both English and Spanish sites.
    • Since January 2021, there have been nearly 16,000 views of the Interactive Caregiver Resource Guide content, with almost 1,100 downloads.
    • As of June 2022, the caregiver support video series has received nearly 130,000 views, with the English version accounting for about 75% of the views and the Spanish version about 25%.

    What you can do

    Help ACS use this month as an opportunity to recognize and support caregivers: 

    • Honor a caregiver by donating in their name on cancer.org/donate.
    • Thank a caregiver on social media using the hashtag #ThankACaregiver or amplify social posts from ACS brand channels. Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will also be posting about caregivers on social, so look for opportunities to amplify those messages, too.
    • Encourage others to access caregiver resources and information at cancer.org/Caregiver.

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