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ACS, partners commit to increased collaboration in Latin America

​Meeting participants agree prevention policies and programs must be a priority

Cancer leaders from nine countries in the Americas met in Bogota, Colombia the first week of December to strategize how they could deepen their collaborative efforts to prevent cancer. 

The meeting was the first of its kind, and was hosted by the American Cancer Society and Liga Colombiana Contra el Cáncer. It also included leaders from organizations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru. Colombia’s Minister of Health and Social Protection, Juan Pablo Uribe Restrepo, spoke at the meeting.  

Bill Cance, MD, our chief medical and scientific officer, joined ACS leaders from Global Cancer Control, Research, and regional Cancer Control for the two-day meeting. Participants shared best practices for preventing cancer, discussed shared challenges, and exchanged ideas on how they could collaborate to reduce tobacco use, increase HPV vaccination rates, promote healthy lifestyles, and achieve health equity. 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Latin America. An estimated 1.8 million new cases of cancer and 1 million deaths a year are expected in Latin America by 2035. Between 2012 and 2035, there will have been a 91% increase in cancer incidence and a doubling in mortality.  

Because many cancers are connected to modifiable risk factors, meeting participants agreed urgent attention needed to be given to raising the priority of prevention policies and programs. The meeting culminated with the signing of a declaration that aims to ensure a coordinated commitment among cancer organizations, government entities, other civil society organizations, media, academia, scientific societies, and the private health sector to effectively advocate for and implement public policies that prevent cancer.

Based on scientific evidence and high public health impact, the immediate priorities include:

  1. Support measures to increase tobacco taxes as the main tool to reduce tobacco consumption and prevent initiation in young people.
  2. Urge countries that have not yet signed or ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to be a party to this global treaty, the first international public health treaty which provides guidelines for tobacco control worldwide.
  3. Monitor and report corporate interference (especially from the tobacco, alcohol, and ultra-processed foods industries) in public policy decision-making.
  4. Advocate for the regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and new devices.
  5. Actively participate in the elimination of cervical cancer through national human papillomavirus vaccination programs and strengthened early detection programs to use DNA-HPV testing.
  6. Support research and eradication of Helicobacter Pylori infection to prevent gastric cancer.
  7. Promote the development of cancer prevention and early detection activities related to the main cancers in the region.
  8. Contribute to the dissemination of academic research that helps build cancer prevention policies.
  9. Act in conjunction with existing networks in the region to document and share successful experiences, lessons learned, and effective communication strategies to achieve strong and sustainable progress.

PHOTOS: Pictured in the smaller image are Bill Cance, MD, chief medical and scientific officer, far left; Sally Cowal, senior vice president, Global Cancer Control, middle; and Juan Pablo Uribe Restrepo, Colombia’s Minister of Health and Social Protection, second from right, with two other partners. Pictured in the top photo are representatives from partner organizations after signing the declaration.

  • Survey: cancer patients and survivors alter or delay care due to insurance barriers

    Issues include prescription drug coverage and surprise medical bills

    Some recent and current cancer patients are making changes to their cancer treatment due to the coverage and cost of prescription drugs and surprise medical bills, according to new survey results from ACS CAN.

    The latest survey from Survivor Views, a national cohort of cancer patients and survivors who complete surveys on a range of public policy issues important to the cancer community, found nearly one-third of patients and survivors have experienced some insurance barrier to accessing prescription drugs necessary for their cancer care, more than half of lower-income respondents have had to act to reduce their prescription costs, and roughly one-quarter of all patients have encountered surprise medical bills—the large bills that result from a patient unknowingly receiving care or a service from an out-of-network provider.

    The survey results come as Congress considers a series of end-of-the-year bills aimed at reducing patient out-of-pocket costs. 

    Prescription Drugs

    Patients surveyed report a variety of insurance barriers to accessing prescription drugs. The most common barriers were having to wait more than 24 hours for insurance approval (19%), being denied coverage for the doctor-prescribed drug (14%) or being required to try a less expensive prescription drug first (10%). Of those who experienced an insurance barrier, 79% reported experiencing at least one negative consequence including, having to spend time on the phone with their insurance provider (44%), paying for the prescription drug out-of-pocket (27%) and going without the prescription drug sometimes for a week or more (38%).

    More than half (54%) of lower income patients have tried to reduce their out-of-pocket costs, including asking for a generic or biosimilar (29%), using a manufacturer’s coupon or assistance program (18%) or asking for a lower-cost drug to be prescribed (17%). While these methods may help reduce overall health care costs, other common methods may have serious negative impacts on patients’ health. For instance, low-income patients were more likely to delay treatment (17%), endure a side effect without treatment (17%), take an over-the-counter medication instead of a prescription drug (16%) or cut pills in half or skip doses of their prescription drugs (9%) than their higher-income counterparts.

    Surprise Billing

    Additionally, nearly a quarter of all survey respondents said they had experienced a surprise medical bill. The Federal Reserve reports four in ten Americans cannot afford an unexpected bill of $400 or more, yet the majority of the surprise bills respondents received were for over $500 and 21% totaled $3,000 or more. 

    Receiving these large, unexpected bills negatively affected patients’ behavior. Nearly 70% said they experienced anxiety about receiving another surprise bill and worried about how such bills might hinder their ability to pay for their care, 60% said they were less likely to follow-up with a doctor-recommended specialist who may be out-of-network, and 42% said they were less likely to call an ambulance when experiencing a serious cancer-related health issue. Nearly one-third also reported that they would be less likely to get a certain treatment because of cost concerns and would be less likely to go to the emergency room for a serious cancer-related health problem.

    “Cancer patients and survivors need ready access to the right prescription drugs and care to treat their disease and side-effects at affordable prices. These results demonstrate the growing obstacles—both administrative and financial—that stand in the way of patients’ ability to get necessary care,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “On behalf of all cancer patients, we urge lawmakers to work together and swiftly pass meaningful bipartisan legislation to lower costs and increase access to prescription drugs and eliminate surprise billing. Patients cannot wait.”

    A detailed summary of the key findings can be found here.



  • “Alexa, open American Cancer Society!”

    Thanks to an app on Alexa, users can learn about five types of cancer

    Now customers of the popular smart speaker, Amazon Echo (aka Alexa), can bring ACS content and services to life by enabling the American Cancer Society Alexa Skill, a voice-driven capability that provides a more personal experience with the device. Specifically, the American Cancer Society Alexa Skill provides Alexa customers the opportunity to ask questions and learn about cancer types, symptoms, and treatment, in addition to learning about the services ACS provides like Hope Lodge, Road To Recovery, Reach To Recovery, cancer.org, and our 24/7 cancer information line. 

    The American Cancer Society Alexa Skill, essentially an app on the Alexa platform, allows consumers to ask common questions about five cancer types - breast, prostate, colorectal, lung, and skin - and understand the basics of treatment options.   

    Information on each cancer topic area begins when Alexa is engaged by stating “Alexa, open American Cancer Society.” Each cancer topic sets users on a path to learn more information on that particular topic and allows customers to ask questions such as:

    • “What is cancer?”
    • “Is cancer contagious?”
    • “Tell me about cancer surgery.”
    • “What are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer?”

    ACS is working continuously to add additional cancer content to increase the depth and breadth of ACS information available to consumers.

    Learn more by visiting this dedicated page on Amazon, or by simply saying, “Alexa, open American Cancer Society.”

  • Celebrating HPV prevention work across the nation

    Champions recognized in 25 states for their work to increase vaccination rates

    The American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) recently announced the 2019 HPV Vaccine is Cancer Prevention Champion award winners. This year, champions were honored from 25 states (not all states participate). The winners were notified last week. A spotlight of each winner is posted on the CDC’s website. 

    This award was established in 2017 to recognize clinicians, clinics, practices, groups, and health systems that are going above and beyond to foster HPV vaccination in their communities. State and territorial immunization program managers coordinate the nomination and review process. Champions must meet the following minimum requirements:

    • Adolescent Health: The candidate must be a clinician, clinic, practice, group, or health system that treats adolescents as part of their overall population.
    • Vaccination Rates: The candidate must reach the target series completion rate of 60% for the patient population aged 13–15 years. The rate must account for both female and male patients. Vaccination under the two-dose schedule (two doses given at least five months apart in children ages 9–14 years old) satisfies series completion, as does the original three-dose schedule.

    In addition, Champions should meet one or more of the following judging criteria:

    • Leadership: The candidate is considered an authority on HPV vaccination. 
    • Collaboration: The candidate has worked to build support for and increase HPV vaccination rates in their adolescent population. 
    • Innovation: The candidate has used creative or innovative strategies to promote HPV vaccination or address challenges to HPV vaccination in their practice, health system, community, state, or region. 

    To learn more about these champions and how they have achieved high HPV vaccination rates, read the winner spotlights.

    • Arkansas: Laura Williams, MD
    • California: Raymond Perry, MD
    • Georgia: Cobb Pediatric Associates
    • Hawaii: Aiea Pediatrics
    • Iowa: Nathan Boonstra, MD, FAAP
    • Louisiana: Sunnyside Pediatrics
    • Maine: Westbrook Pediatrics
    • Massachusetts: Thomas J. Schuch, MD, MPH
    • Michigan: Ascension Borgess Family Medicine and Pediatrics
    • Minnesota: Andrea Singh, MD
    • Mississippi: Vibha Vig, MD
    • Nevada: Reno Center for Child and Adolescent Health
    • New Jersey: Bellevue Pediatrics
    • New Mexico: Jicarilla Service Unit HIS
    • New York: Anna Belle Hyde, FNP-C
    • Ohio: Cincinnati Health Department
    • Oklahoma: Southwestern Pediatrics
    • Oregon: Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center
    • Pennsylvania: UPMC St. Margaret Bloomfield Garfield Family Health Center
    • South Carolina: Tandem Health
    • Tennesse: Sewanee Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
    • Utah: Southridge Pediatrics
    • Virginia: Elizabeth Watts, MD
    • Wisconsin: Lakeshore Community Health Care
    • Wyoming: The Nursing Team of University of Wyoming Family Practice Clinic 


  • It's Cancer Screen Week

    Are you up to date on your screenings?

    Dec. 2 marks the start of Cancer Screen Week, an important public health initiative to increase awareness of the lifesaving benefits of early cancer detection through recommended screenings.  

    The burden of cancer can affect each person differently based on many factors, including where someone lives, their race, ethnicity, and genetic ancestry. This disproportionate burden is partially due to poverty and lack of access to prevention and early detection services, such as cancer screenings.  

    In recent years, some cancer screening rates in certain populations have either become stagnant or declined. 

    Cancer Screen Week is a collective effort by ACS, Stand Up To Cancer, Rally Health, and Genentech. The core partners will provide social media amplification and earned media outreach to support the campaign. This year there will be a greater emphasis on reaching diverse communities, with materials and media interviews being conducted in Spanish and English.  

    With promotional support from actress and breast cancer survivor Shannen Doherty, local efforts are underway in the Los Angeles, CA market to drive awareness of mobile breast screening through an event at a local Federally Qualified Health Center in Glendale, CA. New to Cancer Screen Week this year, this event hopes to encourage screenings for breast cancer and for individuals to find out more about their personal cancer screening options and the risks and benefits of the test. 

    Cancer Screen Week is an ideal opportunity for everyone to think about their personal risks and to talk with their doctors about screening options. All of us should be familiar with ACS cancer screening guidelines

    As part of our Society-sponsored health plans and in compliance with our organization’s cancer screening guidelines, ACS provides coverage for cancer screening benefits, including mammograms and colonoscopies. It's important for staff to know and understand how these cancer screenings are covered through our health plans, including whether your screening is preventive or diagnostic (non-preventive).

    Please share the news about Cancer Screen Week on your social channels using #CancerScreenWeek. The url to share is cancerscreenweek.org.

  • 2018 Annual Report now available on cancer.org

    Please continue to use the Vital Statistics resource for the latest data available

    The American Cancer Society’s 2018 Annual Report is now available electronically on cancer.org, and will be available soon on Brand Toolkit and for ordering via print on demand through the RR Donnelley catalog in ACS Marketplace. Stay tuned to our Society news channels to learn when!

    The Annual Report shows how we are attacking cancer from every angle, showcases the diverse communities we serve and partner with to achieve our mission, and details revenue and spending in 2018. The report also demonstrates our comprehensive and important program of work. The full 2018 Financial Statements are also available on cancer.org. 

    Through this report, we recognize the countless contributions of communities, our volunteers, and partners who help us lead the fight against cancer. As a reminder, this is only a snapshot of all the amazing work that our volunteers and staff are accomplishing throughout the organization. 

    It is an important communication tool to tell the ACS story and engage new audiences, as well as inform our longtime supporters. 

    Due to the timing of the 2018 Annual Report, please continue to use the American Cancer Society Vital Statistics resource to ensure you are using the latest data available.

  • ACS publishes new Quick & Healthy cookbook - just in time for the holidays!

    50 easy-to-prepare recipes for healthy living

    Quick & Healthy: 50 Simple, Delicious Recipes for Every Day is the newest cookbook from ACS. It offers 50 simple, easy-to-prepare recipes that make it easy to cook a variety of healthy dishes for everyone to enjoy at home.  

    "There is no question, what we eat has a tremendous impact on our health, including reducing the risk of many different types of cancer," said Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, our managing director of nutrition and physical activity. "Eating well is a key component of living an overall healthy lifestyle, and there are simple steps we can take each and every day to eat well and improve our health."

    Studies have shown that meals cooked at home tend to be healthier than those eaten out. Quick & Healthy is designed to help support people in their quest to eat well and improve their health by making more home-cooked meals. 

    "These recipes taste great, can be pulled together relatively quickly, and can make it easier to get a healthy meal on the table as we juggle all of our daily priorities," Colleen said. 

    The recipes fall into 3 categories: poultry, seafood, and vegetarian – each illustrated by a full-color photo. For example, vegetarian entree Spinach-Ricotta Stuffed Portobello Caps uses 7 ingredients, minimal preparation, and has just 190 calories per serving.

    The recipes in this new cookbook are consistent with our nutrition guidelines, which recommend eating more vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and limit red and processed meats. The book is priced at $16.95 and is available in print and eBook formats through the American Cancer Society bookstore, as well as on Amazon.

  • TODAY: Last day to complete our follow-up health equity survey

    Your input will be used to create new tools to help reduce cancer disparities

    Last year, we asked you to share what you know about health equity through a survey. We are now conducting a follow-up survey to find out your health equity knowledge and what tools we can develop to support continued integration of health equity into your work. 

    We are asking volunteers to take the 10-minute survey by Friday, November 22. 

    Cancer affects everyone, but it doesn’t affect everyone equally. If we are to further reduce deaths from cancer, we must work to achieve health equity by ensuring everyone has the fair and just opportunity prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. 

    Thank you for your time!


  • Great American Smokeout!

    Mark the day by helping someone you love find the resources to help them quit

    Thursday, November 21, marks the American Cancer Society’s 44th annual Great American Smokeout®.

    It’s never too late for someone to quit smoking. If someone you know smokes cigarettes or uses other tobacco products, encourage them to make a plan to quit and seek help. Quitting smoking improves health immediately and over the long term – at any age. 

    Stopping smoking is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. Getting help through counseling and medications doubles or even triples people's chances of quitting successfully. People who smoke are strongly advised to use proven cessation methods, such as prescription medications and counseling, to quit smoking. It’s a good idea to talk to their doctor or pharmacist to get their advice. Research shows that people who smoke are most successful in their efforts to stop smoking when they have support, such as:

    • Telephone quitlines
    • American Cancer Society Freshstart Program
    • Nicotine Anonymous meetings
    • Self-help books and materials
    • Smoking counselors or coaches
    • Encouragement and support from friends and family members

    Using two or more of these measures to quit smoking works better than using any one of them alone. For example, some people use a prescription medicine along with nicotine replacement. Other people may use as many as three or four of the methods listed above. Professional guidance can help you choose the best approach.

    The American Cancer Society can help

    ACS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide support, answer questions about quitting smoking, and find national or local resources to help people quit. The public can visit cancer.org/smokeout or call 1-800-227-2345. 

    Tools and resources for the Smokeout can be found on cancer.org, as well.

    History of our Great American Smokeout

    New volunteers might be interested to know how our Smokeout began. The idea grew from a 1970 event in Randolph, MA, at which Arthur P. Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund. Then in 1974, Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Monticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state’s first D-Day, or Don’t Smoke Day. The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first official Smokeout, and the American Cancer Society took it nationwide in 1977. 

    Since then, there have been dramatic changes in the way the public views tobacco advertising and tobacco use. Many public places and work areas are now smoke-free – this protects non-smokers and supports people who smoke who want to quit. 

    Although adult smoking rates dropped from 42% in 1965 to 14% in 2017, cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., accounting for 29% of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women. Smoking also causes cancers of the larynx (voice box), mouth, sinuses, pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), and bladder. It also has been linked to the development of cancers of the pancreas, cervix, ovary (mucinous), colon/rectum, kidney, stomach, and some types of leukemia. Cigars and pipes cause cancers, too.

    And, of course, as we all know, people who never smoked can get lung cancer, too.



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