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REPLAY: Special NCCRT webinar on the latest colorectal cancer stats and trends

In this May 18 webinar, Robert Smith, PhD, senior vice president of cancer screening at ACS, and Rebecca Siegel, MPH, scientific director of surveillance research at ACS, provide a closer look at the findings from Colorectal Cancer Statistics 2020.

Watch the replay here.

The webinar focuses on findings released on March 5, 2020, that indicate the burden of colorectal cancer is swiftly shifting to younger individuals as incidence increases in young adults and declines in older age groups. 

Also, the median age of diagnosis has dropped from age 72 in 2001-2002 to age 66 during 2015-2016, and half of all new diagnoses are in people 66 or younger. The publication is accompanied by a consumer version, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures and a press release is also available.


  • Cancer patients increasingly face COVID-19 health impact

    Second ACS CAN survey finds more delays in care, financial strain, and negative mental health effects

    Cancer patients and survivors are finding it increasingly challenging to get necessary health care as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Many are experiencing financial stress and mental health issues as they try to navigate the difficult health and economic environment. 

    In an ACS CAN survey of cancer patients and survivors, 87% of respondents said the pandemic had affected their health care in some manner, up from 51% in an April survey. Of those in active treatment, 79% reported delays to their health care (up from 27%), including 17% of patients who reported delays to their cancer therapy like chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy. The most commonly reported effects for those in active treatment were changes to in-person cancer provider appointments (57%*), and delays in access to imaging services (25% up from 20%) and surgical procedures (15% up from 8%). Delayed access to support services, including physical therapy or mental health care, remained steady (20%).

    Nearly 1 in 4 patients surveyed say the pandemic has made it more difficult to contact their providers with questions about their health care needs, and 1 in 5 say they are worried their cancer could be growing or returning due to delays and interruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

    “The situation is getting worse, not better for cancer patients during this pandemic,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Health practitioners continue to work to balance safety for an immunocompromised population at increased risk for contracting COVID with timely treatment to prevent the spread of cancer. Unfortunately, this results in delays in treatment for many cancer patients.”

    Patients are also under significant financial strain. Forty-six percent said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted their financial situation and ability to pay for care in some way (up from 38%). And nearly a quarter (23%) said they worry they may lose their health insurance due to the pandemic and its effects on the economy.

    While a majority of respondents said they are sheltering in place, 18% said they were working outside the home, including 11% of those still in active treatment. More than a third (34%) of patients say they’re anxious the pandemic will make it hard to afford basic household expenses. Concerns are especially prevalent among lower-income patients, with more than half (54%) of those earning $30,000 or less reporting that they’re worried about affording essentials like rent, food, and utilities

    This combined medical and financial stress has resulted in nearly half (48%) of patients saying the COVID-19 pandemic has had a moderate or major effect on their mental health. In particular, 67% said they worry it will be harder for them to stay safe when social distancing and other restrictions are relaxed in their area, and 70% of patients worry they will be unable to find protective equipment like gloves or masks to help keep them safe.

    The survey also collected feedback from a small group of providers and caregivers who similarly reported concern about delayed care and difficulties providing support for patients while being unable to see them, as well as a lack of personal protective equipment. Caregivers, like patients, reported anxiety over reopening and the increased potential for their and their loved one’s exposure to the virus.

    “A cancer diagnosis brings any number of challenges and stressors, but right now it’s even more fraught with additional barriers to timely and affordable care that could be further exacerbated by job loss – like millions of Americans have already endured,” Lisa said. “COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on the barriers to affordable health care that cancer patients have long faced. The survey responses highlight the increasing and urgent need for Congress to swiftly pass measures that help these patients alleviate their physical, financial and emotional strain during and beyond the pandemic.”

    The web-based survey was taken by more than 1,200 cancer patients and survivors. This sample provides a margin of error +/- 3% and 96% confidence level.  Additional input was provided by 111 caregivers and 139 health care providers supporting cancer patients and survivors.

    A full polling memo can be found here.

    NOTE: The previous survey did not distinguish between cancer provider and other in-person provider appointments, so no comparison is available.




  • 20 patient groups urge Supreme Court to uphold health care law

    ​COVID-19 pandemic makes clear the urgent need for patient protections and access to health insurance.

    Twenty patient groups representing millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions filed an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) brief today with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case California v. Texas (previously Texas v. United States), citing the devastating impact patients would face should the court rule to invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case after the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down the individual mandate without a tax penalty as unconstitutional and sent the case back to the District Court to determine if the mandate can be “severed” from the rest of the law. The District Court previously ruled the entire law was invalid.

    The patient groups argue the law has expanded access to health insurance coverage and has improved patient outcomes as Congress intended. Congress’s decision to keep the ACA in place after eliminating the tax penalty tied to the individual mandate reinforces that intent.

    Following is the groups’ joint statement:

    “While the coronavirus pandemic further highlights the importance of access to meaningful health insurance coverage for millions of Americans – especially for those who are at high-risk of being severely affected by the virus – patient protections in the ACA provide an essential lifeline for countless Americans who have pre-existing or acute conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung diseases.

    “If the entire health care law is invalidated, health plans could once again deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, set arbitrary lifetime and annual limits on care, and skirt essential benefits necessary to prevent and treat acute conditions. The link between access to comprehensive health coverage and patient outcomes is well established. Because of the ACA there have been statistically significant shifts toward early-stage diagnosis for several common cancers, a surge of people getting screened for and diagnosed with diabetes, and a significant drop in uninsured substance abuse or mental health disorder hospitalizations in states that expanded Medicaid.

    “Invalidating the law would likely reverse these gains. It also would jeopardize the federal tax credits that make health insurance more affordable for millions of Americans, threatening their access to critical health coverage, and rescind Medicaid expansion funding, crippling the safety net health insurance program at a time when millions more unemployed Americans have no alternate coverage option.

    “Undoing the patient protections and improved health care access would ignore the will of Congress at the expense of millions of Americans who would lose their coverage and millions more who would likely be unable to obtain coverage due to pre-existing conditions. We urge the Supreme Court to uphold the decade-old law and preserve access to health insurance – and therefore health care—for millions of Americans.”

    Read a copy of the brief.


  • 10 tips to get more sleep

    Are you getting enough sleep at night? Do you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 1 in 3 American adults do not get healthy amounts of sleep. And stress can make the problem even worse.

    The NIH says adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to stay in good mental and physical health, promote quality of life, and avoid an increased risk of injury. They recommend these tips for getting a good night's sleep:

    1. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
    2. Don't take naps after 3 p.m, and don't nap longer than 20 minutes.
    3. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
    4. Avoid nicotine completely.
    5. Get regular exercise, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime.
    6. Don't eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime is OK.
    7. Make your bedroom comfortable, dark, quiet, and not too warm or cold.
    8. Follow a routine to help you relax before sleep (for example, reading or listening to music). Turn off the TV and other screens at least an hour before bedtime.
    9. Don't lie in bed awake. If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, do something calming until you feel sleepy, like reading or listening to soft music.
    10. Talk with a doctor if you continue to have trouble sleeping.

    Teens and Sleep

    Sleep problems are a special concern for teenagers. The average teen needs about 9 hours of sleep a night. Children and teens who don't get that much may have problems getting along with others. They may feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation. They also may have problems paying attention, and they may get lower grades and feel stressed.

    In addition to the sleep tips for adults, teens can also try:

    • Avoiding screen time at least an hour before bed.
    • Banning all-nighters (Don't leave homework for the last minute!)
    • Writing in a diary or on a to-do list just before sleep, to reduce stress
    • Sleeping no more than 2 hours later on weekend mornings than on weekday mornings. 

    Sleep Tips for Cancer Patients

    Sleep disturbances can be very common in cancer patients and usually have more than one cause. People in cancer treatment may sleep more than usual, or they may have trouble sleeping. Learn what patients and caregivers can do to help.

    NOTE: This story by Stacy Simon, senior editor, news, first appeared on cancer.org.


  • Allied Against Cancer earns honorable mention from Fast Company

    Last fall, the American Cancer Society joined partners IBM, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network to launch Allied Against Cancer, a new alliance to help improve access to high-quality cancer care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, the alliance is being recognized by Fast Company magazine for its work.  

    The alliance received honorable mention in the Best World Changing Idea in Europe, Middle East, and Africa category as part of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. The contest recognizes products, concepts, companies, policies, and designs that are driving innovation for the good of society and the planet. Allied Against Cancer will be noted in the magazine’s May 5 print edition.  

    Allied Against Cancer works to improve access to and the quality of cancer treatment by gathering, connecting, and supporting projects and working groups that are focused on practical approaches. The group’s work includes the development of treatment guidelines for sub-Saharan Africa, education about safe handling of chemotherapy for providers in cancer centers, and improving access to essential pain medicine.  

    Now more than ever, our Global Cancer Control work is critical. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, cancer hasn’t stopped, so neither have our efforts to reduce the burden of the disease in low- and middle-income countries. This month, Ambassador Sally Cowal, (pictured above), senior vice president, global cancer control, co-authored an article in the Council of Foreign Relations’ Think Global Health newsletter.  

    In her article, she shared: “Turning the tide on cancer requires the same urgency and collaboration that we need to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization's (WHO) recently released Report on Cancer estimates that seven million deaths from cancer can be avoided if governments prioritize interventions that are feasible, evidence-based, and affordable, including prevention, value-basedtreatment and health systemsstrengthening. These interventions should be integrated into universal health coverage, which aims at giving communities the health services they need without imposing financial hardship.”  


  • Constituents continue to turn to NCIC amid the pandemic

    ​While the Coronavirus crisis continues to impact the world, the patients and families we serve continue to turn to our National Cancer Information Center (NCIC) for help and information amid the uncertainty.

    Here is a small sampling of calls that NCIC specialists have handled recently:

    • After a man was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer that metastasized to the bones, the patient’s wife contacted the Society for help. Her husband is unable to walk or care for himself due to the pain, and she wanted to know if it was safe to keep taking him to his radiation treatments. The specialist provided referrals for home care since the woman was struggling to care for her husband. The specialist also suggested scheduling a telemedicine appointment to discuss the benefits of treatment versus the risk of exposure to the virus, as well as the patient’s pain management.
    • Since completing chemotherapy for lymphoma in August, a man called to find out if he was considered high risk for the Coronavirus because of his prior cancer diagnosis.  The specialist shared information about people at risk for the virus. The specialist encouraged a discussion with the survivor’s care team and shared a list of questions to ask his doctor about his risk.
    • A woman whose daughter has both BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutations called with concerns about high risk people accessing screenings and preventative surgeries. Her daughter was scheduled for a prophylactic mastectomy that has been postponed.  The specialist explained how taxing this crisis is on the medical field and shared the College of Surgeons recommendations.
    • A breast cancer survivor called NCIC seeking information on emergency physical therapy for her lymphedema, as her provider’s office has closed.  Because she is unable to continue her therapy, fluid has built up in her arms. She is uncomfortable and understandably frustrated. The specialist encouraged leaving a voicemail for the provider and contacting a social worker to identify any local resources that may be available.

    In March, 80% of evaluated calls were related to COVID-19, and as of April 9, 70% of evaluated calls this month have been related to the pandemic.

    NCIC’s specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via 1-800-227-2345. Constituents can also chat with a specialist Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET by clicking the Live Chat button found on cancer.org.

    PHOTOS: Pictured in the photos are two Cancer Information Specialists at NCIC. In the top image is Emily Moore. Laura Oliver is in the smaller photo.

  • ACS invites CPS-3 participants to help COVID-19 tracking

    Data gathered from the app will help characterize the progression of symptoms and trajectories related to the new coronavirus

    The American Cancer Society is inviting participants in its ongoing Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3) to use a new app to help investigators track the COVID-19 epidemic and inform future research efforts.

    The app, the COVID Symptom Tracker, was created by doctors and scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Massachusetts General Hospital, King's College London, and Stanford University School of Medicine, working in partnership with the health science company ZOE. It is available to anyone in the United States or United Kingdom. Participants simply download the app and each day, track whether they are feeling any symptoms.

    The goal of the app is to better understand the symptoms of COVID-19; understand how fast the virus is spreading in different areas; identify high-risk areas in the country; identify who is most at risk by better understanding symptoms linked to health conditions; and identify the exposure of healthcare workers to COVID-19.

    “By inviting CPS-3 participants to use this app, we hope to be able to help address the immediate and long-term needs of cancer patients and survivors,” said Alpa Patel, PhD, senior scientific director, epidemiology research and lead investigator for CPS-3. “In the short term, data gathered from the app will help characterize the progression of symptoms and trajectories related to coronavirus. Over time, the data can be combined with CPS-3 data to study the longer-term health effects related to infection, including in vulnerable populations like cancer survivors.”

    Cancer Prevention Study include more than 300,000 participants from 35 states and Puerto Rico who completed a comprehensive baseline survey that included extensive medical, lifestyle, and other information. Participants are contributing to a better understanding of the roles of lifestyle, genetic, and other factors in cancer.

    Covid-19 Tracker already works with other major studies, like the Nurses’ Health Study, one of the largest and longest-running scientific studies in the world with 280,000 participants, many of whom are active healthcare workers treating people with COVID.

    To learn more, visit the COVID-19 symptom tracker.


  • ACS offers free housing to COVID-19 health care workers

    Please donate to our Hope Lodge COVID-19 Response Fund.

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our Hope Lodge facilities around the country are being made available for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight -- at no cost -- through the health care systems they are affiliated with.

    As of April 13, seven properties had been turned over to heath care partners, with five more expected to transition this week. Nine more are in the nearly fully negotiated stage and may well transition this week. That means we could have 21 Hope Lodge facilities turned over to partners by the end of this week.

    Did you know that the daily cost of operating our 34-facility Hope Lodges program is $60,000 a day? That is more than $22 million a year.

    Our Hope Lodge COVID-19 Response Fund has been set up to help enable us to provide the resources necessary to repurpose and operate our Hope Lodge facilities during the COVID-19 crisis. It will also ensure that Hope Lodges are ready to accept cancer patients again in the coming months. In addition, this dedicated fund can be used to support cancer patients through other programs during the pandemic.

    "We are grateful for the opportunity to help the health care community as we all continue to adapt to keep pace with the escalating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," said our CEO Gary Reedy. "Making the decision to close our Hope Lodge facilities to cancer patients was extremely difficult. It is gratifying to be able to now offer these rooms to provide respite for health care workers who are making tremendous personal sacrifices to be on the frontlines treating patients, and we hope these accommodations will help." 

    On March 27, 2020, we made the tough decision to suspend operations for the Hope Lodge program. Due to the growth of the pandemic, we could no longer ensure the health and safety of our immune-compromised cancer patient residents, nor of its volunteers and staff.

    As a result, we now have rooms where health care workers can rest between shifts or sleep overnight if returning home is too difficult. As many health systems are now turning to community partners for support – ACS is ready to help. The reality is that many health care workers are unable to return home each night due to long shifts and fear of exposing their families to the COVID-19 virus. 

    ACS operates 34 Hope Lodges across the U.S., with a total of 1,174 rooms. In 2019, we provided 500,000 nights of free lodging to more than 29,000 patients and caregivers.

    Cancer hasn't stopped, so neither have we. During this unprecedented time, we remain committed to the needs of cancer patients, who are more vulnerable than ever in the face of COVID-19. We continue to provide help and resources to cancer patients, families, caregivers, and health care providers. This includes being available, 24/7, 365 days a year through our helpline (800-227-2345) and cancer.org.

  • Dr. Len answers COVID-19 medical questions

    Check out this new video - and share!

    Our Deputy Chief Medical Officer Len Lichtenfeld, MD, answers lingering medical questions from volunteers and staff about COVID-19 in a 22-minute video released today. 

    Dr. Len shared his insight on questions ranging from testing and social distancing to the impact the virus is having and will have on cancer treatment and early detection. 

    The video was recorded in conversation with Renee Kelley, director of volunteer and staff communications, and can be shared with volunteers and constituents. 

    In addition, Dr. Len will answer medical questions that are submitted to coronavirus@cancer.org

    Check Twitter for other videos about coronavirus featuring Dr. Len in conversation with David Sampson, strategic director, medical & science communications.   

    An article titled Common Questions About the New Coronavirus Outbreak is updated regularly on cancer.org.  Additional information about COVID-19 can be found at cancer.org/coronavirus.


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