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Cervical precancers drop since introduction of HPV vaccine

​A study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides evidence that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is effectively reducing the numbers of cervical precancers – lesions that can become cervical cancers. The study was published February 21, 2019, in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer linked to HPV in women. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and most of them are caused by types 16 and 18. The HPV vaccine can protect people from the types of HPV infections that can cause cervical cancer as well as cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat.

This study focused on a time period that began two years after the first HPV vaccine was introduced and ended a year before the newer, current vaccine was approved. The first vaccine protected against HPV types 16 and 18. The vaccine now used in the US protects against 9 types of HPV, including 16 and 18. The study included women who had been vaccinated and those who had not and found that cervical precancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18 have declined.  

The researchers tested tissue samples collected between 2008 and 2014 from more than 10,000 women ages 18 to 39 years who were diagnosed with cervical precancers. They found:

  • The percentage of precancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18 declined from 52.7% in 2008 to 44.1% in 2014.

  • Among women who had been vaccinated, the percentage of precancers caused by HPV 16 and 18 dropped from 55.2% to 33.3%.

  • In unvaccinated women, the percentage dropped from 51% to 47.3%.

The decline was biggest among women who had been vaccinated, but unvaccinated women also showed a decline. The study authors say this suggests herd protection, which happens when enough people in a community are vaccinated and it’s harder for the virus to travel from person to person.

HPV and HPV Vaccination

The CDC and the American Cancer Society recommend girls and boys begin getting the vaccine series at age 11 or 12, and catch-up vaccination through age 26. The vaccination series can also be started as early as age 9.

According to the CDC, in 2016, 65% of girls ages 13 to 17 years had received the first dose of the HPV vaccine and 49.5% had completed the vaccination series.

Debbie Saslow, PhD, our senior director of HPV-related and women's cancers, pictured here, said, "It is exciting to see yet more definitive evidence that HPV vaccination is preventing cervical pre-cancers caused by the most aggressive virus types. I am certain we will see similar declines in vaginal, vulvar, anal, and penile pre-cancers and, in the not too distant future, of HPV cancers - including throat cancer in men as well as women."

  • Follow-up care for cancer survivors will be challenged by the growing number of survivors and projected shortage of health-care workers

    Commentary in the "Journal of the National Cancer Institute" co-authored by Catherine M. Alfano, PhD, our VP of survivorship, calls for the adoption of risk-stratified cancer care

    The number of cancer patients in the U.S. is projected to rise from 15.5 million currently to 26 million by 2040, and these people will need ongoing follow-up care to screen for and treat recurrences and additional cancers; manage chronic and late effects of cancer and treatment; address psychological, social, economic, and family concerns; encourage healthy lifestyle behaviors; and increase adherence to long-term treatment and follow-up care regimens.

    Currently, this care occurs during follow-up visits with the medical oncologist and /or primary care provider. However, current models of follow-up care fail to meet the needs of many survivors, and this will become worse as the number of survivors over age 65, who are more likely to have multiple health issues, grows, says the commentary by Catherine (pictured here) and Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, director of cancer survivorship at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the interim director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Cancer Survivorship.

    Compounding the problem will be a shortage of oncologists. An American Society of Clinical Oncology report in 2014 estimated there would be a shortage of 2,200 oncologists, or approximately a 10 percent gap in providers, by 2025.

    To address this supply and demand gap, Catherine and Deborah recommend the development of risk-stratified cancer follow-up care, an approach others put forward a decade ago, and one that has been demonstrated to be effective in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

    Risk-stratification involves assigning a person to a level of care management, or a "clinical pathway," based on a health assessment of current and projected complexity of their medical needs and the type of healthcare provider their care requires. The pathways are developed using evidence-based care guidelines, an approach informed by clinical study outcomes. The health assessment covers a range of issues, including overall prognosis; likelihood of cancer recurrence and new secondary cancers; the potential risk and impact of cancer treatment side-effects; psychosocial and socio-economic challenges; and the person's ability to navigate the healthcare system and manage their own health needs.

    Patients deemed to have a low-risk of immediate or late-stage complications would receive follow-up care from their primary care provider. Patients experiencing moderate and ongoing problems would be followed by advanced practice providers. And, patients with complex care issues, or who were expected to experience significant cancer-related issues in the future, would receive their follow-up care from a multi-disciplinary team of caregivers, including an oncologist.

    "We must start enacting plans to develop and test these new care models. Each stakeholder group should take on what they can do alone and collaborate with others to advance this agenda . . . We hope this commentary will provide direction on what needs to be done to take this from concept to implementation. We simply cannot afford to fail. The health of our survivors, the happiness of our clinicians, and the financial well-being of our health-care systems and our patients and families are at stake," the article concludes.

  • Now available: Fifth article in our Blueprint for Cancer Control in the 21st Century

    New report says health systems are key to improving cancer outcomes in the United States

    According to the latest chapter in the Society's Blueprint for Cancer Control in the 21st Century, without a national investment and commitment to transforming health care delivery in the U.S., many people will not benefit from the substantial progress in reducing the burden of cancer already made, let alone the innovations and breakthroughs that are yet to come.

    The article is the fifth in a series comprising a cancer control blueprint to identify opportunities for improving cancer control in the U.S. The latest chapter, authored by Robin Yabroff, PhD, (pictured here) and colleagues, describes the state of cancer care delivery in the U.S.; provides an overview of its health care systems; and identifies goals for a high-performing health care system. It appears in the American Cancer Society Journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

    Between 1991 and 2015, the cancer mortality rate declined dramatically in the United States, reflecting improvements in cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and survivorship care. However, cancer outcomes in the United States vary substantially between populations defined by race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, health insurance coverage, and geographic area of residence.

    Many potentially preventable cancer deaths occur in individuals who did not receive effective cancer prevention, screening, treatment, or survivorship care. At the same time, cancer care spending is large and growing, straining national, state, health insurance plans, and family budgets.

    The article focuses on the role of health systems in helping ensure that all populations benefit from scientific research that has identified proven tools to reduce the cancer burden. The article identifies goals for a high-performing health system:

    • Facilitate adoption of healthy lifestyles

    • Provide access to a regular source of primary care

    • Provide timely access to high-quality, evidence-based care

    • Be affordable for patients, payers, and society

    • Promote patient-centeredness, including effective patient-provider communication

    • Enhance coordination and communication between providers, including primary care and specialty care providers.

    No American should develop cancer, suffer needlessly, or die prematurely because they cannot access the care they need," write the authors. "[M]uch is already known about how to reduce the burden of cancer, but without a national investment and commitment to transforming our health care systems, many people will not benefit from the progress we have already made, let alone the innovations and breakthroughs that are yet to come."

    For more information about this chapter and our Blueprint for Cancer Control in the 21st Century, please see the resource list, below. Subsequent Blueprint chapters will focus on treatment and research and will be released in the coming months.

    Blueprint resources for volunteers:

  • Cancer Statistics for African Americans: Overall cancer death rate is dropping faster in blacks than in whites

    Black-white cancer mortality gap nearly eliminated in some age groups

    Although African Americans still bear a disproportionate share of the cancer burden, a new report finds the black-white gap has closed considerably over the past several decades. Cancer Statistics for African Americans, 2019 and its companion publication Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans, 2019 - 2021 published every three years by American Cancer Society investigators, reports that the overall cancer death rate is dropping faster in blacks than in whites, largely driven by greater declines for three of the four most common cancers. 

    The report appears early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

    The black-white disparity is narrowing for lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer and has stabilized since 2010 for breast cancer. As a result, the excess risk of overall cancer death in blacks compared with whites dropped from 47% in 1990 to 19% in 2016 in men and from 19% to 13% in women. Progress is even greater in men under 50 and women 70 and over, among whom the black-white cancer disparity has been nearly eliminated.

    Despite the declining disparity, African Americans, the second-largest racial/ethnic group in the U.S. after Hispanics, comprising 13% of the total U.S. population, have the highest death rate and the lowest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers in the U.S. Socioeconomic status (SES), which is strongly correlated with race in this country, is the most critical factor driving these racial inequalities.

    In 2017, the proportion of blacks living below the federal poverty level (21%) was more than double that of NH whites (9%), and just 22% of blacks, versus 36% of non-Hispanic whites, had completed 4 years of college. Individuals with lower SES experience numerous barriers to high-quality health care, including lack of adequate insurance coverage.

    To monitor progress in reducing those inequalities, every three years the American Cancer Society provides the most recent data on cancer incidence, mortality, survival, screening, and risk factors, as well as the estimated numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in the current year, using data from the National Cancer Institute, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, and the National Center for Health Statistics.

    In 2019, approximately 202,260 new cancer cases and 73,030 cancer deaths are expected to occur among blacks in the U.S. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in black men, and breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed in black women, each accounting for nearly one-third of cancers diagnosed in each sex. Cancers of the lung and colorectum are the second and third most common cancers, respectively, in both black men and women.

    During 2006 through 2015, the overall cancer incidence rate also decreased faster in black men than in white men (2.4% vs 1.7% per year), largely due to more rapid declines in lung cancer. The incidence rate was stable in black women (compared with a slight increase in white women), reflecting increasing rates for breast, endometrial, and pancreatic cancer offsetting by declining trends for lung and colorectal cancer.

    Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men (25% of deaths) and women (20% of deaths), followed by breast cancer in women (18%) and prostate cancer in men (15%). Colorectal cancer is expected to be the third-leading cause of cancer death for black men and women.

    Breast cancer incidence rates are higher among blacks than among whites for women younger than 45 years. The median age of diagnosis is 59 years for black women compared with 63 years for white women. One in 9 black women is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, compared with 1 in 8 white women.

    Overall cancer death rates were lower in blacks than in whites during the early 1950s; however, rates increased sharply in blacks from 1950 through 1990 and have remained higher compared with whites since the 1960s. Cancer death rates peaked in black men and women in the early 1990s and have subsequently declined, with a steeper decline in men. That progress translates into the avoidance of more than 462,000 cancer deaths over the past 25 years.

    Higher breast cancer death rates among black women likely result from a combination of factors that are difficult to parse, including more advanced stage at diagnosis, higher prevalence of obesity and other comorbidities, and unfavorable tumor characteristics (e.g. triple-negative disease, inflammatory carcinoma, higher grade) as well as less access and adherence to high-quality cancer treatment.

    The narrowing of black-white disparities is striking in some age groups. Among men ages 40 to 49, the cancer death rate was 102% higher in blacks than in whites during 1990-1991 but had shrunk to just 17% higher during 2015-2016. Among women ages 40 to 49, the overall disparity narrowed from 44% in 1990-1991 to 30% in 2015-2016. And among black women ages 80 to 89, the cancer mortality rate was 8% higher than whites during 2002-2003, but 3% lower in 2015-2016.

    "Seeing the substantial progress made over the past several decades in reducing black-white disparities in cancer mortality is incredibly gratifying," said Len Lichtenfeld, MD, our interim chief medical officer. "This progress is driven in large part by drops in the lung cancer death rate driven by more rapid decreases in smoking over the past 40 years in blacks than in whites. To continue this progress, we need to expand access to high-quality cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment for all Americans."

  • President calls for a $500 million investment in childhood cancer research

    10-year-old brain cancer survivor from New Jersey gets standing ovation at State of the Union

    In his State of the Union Tuesday night, President Trump vowed to act to bring drug prices down, protect people with pre-existing conditions, make insurance and hospital costs more transparent, eliminate HIV in the U.S. within the next 10 years, and invest $500 million in childhood cancer research over the next decade.

    "Together we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond. Tonight I am also asking you to join me in another fight that all Americans can get behind, the fight against childhood cancer," he said.

    "Joining Melania in the gallery this evening is a very brave 10-year-old girl, Grace Eline [applause erupted]. . . Every birthday since she was four, Grace asked her friends to donate to St. Jude's Children's Hospital. She did not know that one day she might be a patient herself. That's what happened. Last year, Grace was diagnosed with brain cancer. Immediately she began radiation treatment. At the same time, she rallied her community and raised more than $40,000 for the fight against cancer.  [more applause] When Grace completed treatment last fall, her doctors and nurses cheered, they loved her, they still love her,  with tears in their eyes, as she hung up a poster that read, "Last day of chemo." [more applause]

    "Many childhood cancers have not seen new therapies in decades. My budget will call for a $500 million in the next 10 years to support this lifesaving research," the President said.

    In regards to pre-existing conditions and drug prices, the President said a "major priority for me and for all of us should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs and to protect patients with pre-existing conditions.  .  . It's unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place. This is wrong, this is unfair, and together we will stop it, and we'll stop it fast."

    Here is a response from ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse:

    "ACS CAN commends the administration for continuing to elevate the important issue of childhood cancer research. Cancer remains the leading disease-related cause of death among U.S. children.

    "Federally-funded cancer research is the engine that drives ongoing progress in the fight against pediatric cancers. Passage of the STAR Act this past June with overwhelming bipartisan support reflects the priority lawmakers place on addressing a disease that affects some of the most vulnerable in our nation. ACS CAN calls on Congress and the administration to fully fund the STAR Act in the FY20 budget and ensure childhood cancer research remains a national priority."

  • Summit replay, photos, and materials now available

    ​Volunteers can now access replays of sessions from the second and third day of last week's Nationwide Volunteer and Staff Leadership in Dallas.

    Innovation was the theme for the second day of the Summit. Attendees were treated to a bpresentation on the importance of creating a culture of innovation from Julia Paige of Google, director of YouTube Social Impact. Julia spoke to the need for non-profits to implement creative ideas and innovation to grow and succeed as an organization. She showed several examples of how Google has embraced innovation and answered several questions from the audience about how they can use their imagination to come up with new ideas to help expand their message. The session also featured regional examples of innovation.

    The annual Quality of Life Awards luncheon recognized recipients of the Trish Greene and Lane Adams Quality of Life Awards. The awards honor excellence in quality of life research and exemplary cancer care. Barbara Ann Given, University Distinguished Professor and interim associate dean for research, Michigan State University, received the Trish Greene Award for her dedication and pioneering oncological research to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Six individuals (pictured in the smaller image) were given the Lane Adams Award for their "warm hands of service." Recipients were Diogo Barbosa, patient navigator, Denver, CO; Catherine Gaines, PA-C, Lumberton, NC; Jackie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, Medford, NJ; Roshani Patel, MD, FACS, Manchester, NH; Amy Roberts, LCSW, Ocala, FLA; and Mandy Samford, cosmetologist, Gilbert, AZ.

    Volunteers were introduced to our new chief financial officer, Rob King, and our vice president of volunteerism, Eustacia Mahoney, who led a discussion and answered questions about measuring impact on our mission. In this session, participants got a sneak peek at draft of the Board of Directors National scorecard. Small group discussions provided an opportunity for Area Board Chairs to discuss how the metrics on the scorecard could be used locally to showcase important Area mission work.

    A session to address the relevance of the ACS in engaging diverse donors within the giving landscape closed out day two. Joe Naylor, vice president of policy, government, and public affairs, Chevron Corporation, presented giving trends for diverse generational and ethnic groups. Participants were encouraged to find relevancy with diverse groups located in their community to help drive donations, volunteerism, and mission impact.

    Day two ended with a fun networking evening. A special game night brought out the competitive nature of each Region, ACS CAN, and Global Headquarters. Jenga, Flip Cup, and a physical game of Tic-Tac-Toe resulted in the awarding of the grand champion to the South Region.

    Regions spent most of the last day of the Summit discussing priorities and building strategic plans. The Summit ended with a message about building integrity from author, speaker, and cancer survivor Mike Dilbeck. Mike rode into the Summit on his bicycle, encouraging the audience to think about the spokes of a bicycle in building integrity. He shared that the spokes of a bicycle needed to be sturdy and solid in order for the wheel of the bike to work properly. Our wheel of integrity needs to be just as solid to succeed.

    The conclusion of the Summit featured 22-year-old cancer survivor Lindsey JonesLindsey shared the story of her diagnosis of a deadly form of cancer that stole her eyesight at age four. (Her speech begins 52 minutes in.) Despite losing her eyesight, Lindsey conquered cancer and is excelling in life – graduating with many honors and dedicating herself to service. She encouraged all attendees to overcome obstacles that are put in front of us and led everyone in the singing of "This Little Light of Mine".

    Materials from the Summit including the key takeaways and calls to action can be found in the 2019 Summit Brand Toolkit Collection. A condensed view of all materials can be found on this 2019 Summit Videos and Materials document, also on Brand Toolkit.

    Pictures from the Summit, including game night, are also available for download and viewing. 


  • At Summit, Regions share examples of innovation

    Watch each Region's video!

    Volunteers and staff attending the 2019 Volunteer and Staff Leadership Summit in Dallas last week were treated to a session on Innovation: What Innovation Means, Why Innovation Matters, and How Innovation Works. The inspirational session featured Julia Paige of Google, director of YouTube Social Impact.

    replay of her conversation with the South Region's Executive Vice President Jeff Fehlis is now available. In addition, attendees were treated to videos developed by each ACS Region to highlight a recent innovation success. Descriptions of each success and a link to their videos are below:

    North Central Region: ResearcHERS

    This spring, North Central Region is launching an exciting campaign called ResearcHERS: Women Fighting Cancer. This program will serve as a research funding initiative that bridges the gap between critical cancer research, and the dollars needed to fund it, by engaging women leaders to fundraise and by encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in science. It is women helping women in the fight against cancer.

    Northeast Region: #ShareYourScreen

    Last March, the Northeast Region launched the Share Your Screen social media campaign in support of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. People were asked to share a photo of their phone screens tagged with #ShareYourScreen to raise awareness of the importance and impact of colorectal screenings. Through the efforts of staff and volunteers across the country, nearly 1,000 posts tagged with #ShareYourScreen were shared, resulting in more than 1.5 million impressions on Twitter alone.

    North Region: Corporate Partnership Opportunities

    When the vice president of Affiliate Operations at Renewal by Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer this past year, the company knew they needed to rally around her to support her in the fight. Renewal by Anderson partnered with ACS and a platform called Frontstream to quickly and nimbly launch "Wear Pink, Save Lives," with their 96 nationwide locations raising more than $207,000 for ACS in honor of their leader.

    Southeast Region: #GoldTogether

    The childhood cancer and Relay For Life communities come together in the grassroots #GoldTogether program, allowing a Relay team at select events to restrict their funds raised to childhood cancer research, support services, and awareness, as well as cancer prevention targeting children. This program has helped drive revenue, raising more than double the national team average for Relay For Life last year.

    South Region: 10,000 Nights of Hope

    In 2018, the CEOs Against Cancer Gulf Coast chapter created a unique campaign benefiting Houston's Hope Lodge, while directly reaching leaders of industries and communities that have not previously engaged with ACS. By focusing on messaging that quantified what a donation to Hope Lodge Houston would mean in terms of tangible impact, e.g., $50 equals one night of lodging, the 10,000 Nights of Hope campaign raised awareness and more than $25,000 for Hope Lodge Houston in its first year.

    West Region: Expanding Partnerships

    The Seattle area's corporate relations and community development teams have recently leveraged and expanded their relationship with a local Seattle tech startup. They grew a relationship with this partner from a $3,000 Making Strides team and $5,000 event sponsor, to a robust relationship incorporating cause marketing, workplace giving, and customized engagement opportunities.

    During breaks in the Summit, attendees were treated to innovations and ideas tables featuring the following: 

    • A preview of the interactive Volunteer Community – coming soon!
    • A review of the Innovation Library and how to access it through staff partners
    • A tour the Catchafire Skills Based Volunteer Recruiting platform
    • Lessons on how to search for Area Board Resources on MySocietySource
    • A primer on how to support ACS CAN and our legislative agendas

  • Obesity-related cancers rising in young adults in the U.S.

    ​Millennials have about double the risk of some cancers compared to Baby Boomers at that age

    A new study by ACS and the National Cancer Institute finds rates are increasing for six of 12 cancers related to obesity in younger adults in the U.S., with steeper increases in progressively younger ages and successively younger generations. The study, appearing in The Lancet Public Health, also looked at rates for 18 cancers unrelated to obesity, and found rates increasing for only two.

    The obesity epidemic over the past 40 years has led to younger generations experiencing an earlier and longer lasting exposure to excess weight over their lifetime than previous generations. Excess body weight is a known carcinogen, associated with more than a dozen cancers and suspected in several more. Exposures to carcinogens during early life may have an even more important influence on cancer risk by acting during crucial developmental periods.

    Several years ago, the authors of the current study identified increases in early onset colorectal cancer in the U.S., a trend that has been observed in several high-income countries and could partly reflect the obesity epidemic. They extended that analysis by examining recent age-specific trends in 30 types of cancers, including 12 known to be associated with obesity.

    For the new study, investigators led by Hyuna Sung, PhD., principal scientist, surveillance research, in our Intramural Research Department, analyzed 20 years of incidence data (1995-2014) for 30 cancers in 25 states from the Cancer in North America database provided by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, covering 67% of the population of the U.S.  The authors say theirs is the first to systematically examine incidence trends for obesity-related cancers in young adults in the U.S.

    Incidence increased for 6 of the 12 obesity-related cancers (colorectal, uterine corpus [endometrial], gallbladder, kidney, multiple myeloma, and pancreas) in young adults and in successively younger birth cohorts in a stepwise manner.  For example, the risk of colorectal, uterine corpus [endometrial], pancreas, and gall bladder cancers in millennials is about double the rate baby boomers had at the same age. In contrast, rates in successive younger birth cohorts declined or stabilized in all but 2 of 18 other, non-obesity related cancers, including smoking-related and infection-related cancers.

    “Although the absolute risk of these cancers is small in younger adults, these findings have important public health implications,” said Ahmedin Jemal, DVM PhD., our scientific vice president of surveillance & health services research and senior/corresponding author of the paper. “Given the large increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among young people and increasing risks of obesity-related cancers in contemporary birth cohorts, the future burden of these cancers could worsen as younger cohorts age, potentially halting or reversing the progress achieved in reducing cancer mortality over the past several decades. Cancer trends in young adults often serve as a sentinel for the future disease burden in older adults, among whom most cancer occurs.”

    Other authors include Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH, surveillance research scientific director, in our Intramural Research Department, and Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute.

    The authors say innovative strategies are needed to mitigate morbidity and premature mortality associated with obesity-related diseases, primarily by health-care providers and policy makers.

  • Replays and recap of Summit presentations by Gary Reedy, Len Lichtenfeld, and Rich Wender

    If work kept you from watching Tuesday afternoon's livestream from our Nationwide Staff and Volunteer Summit in Dallas, the replay of the presentations by CEO Gary ReedyLen Lichtenfeld, MD, our acting chief medical officer, and Rich Wender, MD, our chief cancer control officer, are now available. (Please note that the replay begins 7 minutes in.) You'll find a recap of their remarks below.

    Also available is the replay featuring the panel discussion on "Reimaging the Volunteer Staff Partnership" with volunteers Kyle PolkeHeddie Sumpter, and Melissa Park, and Shanna Lee, senior volunteer engagement manager at ACS. Also in this segment is the presentation of the 2019 Volunteer Leadership Award. This year's recipients are Diana Diaz, RN, MS, of Tennessee and Heddie Sumpter of Florida. Read more about them here.

    Last, but not least, here is the replay of the final remarks of the evening, outgoing Board Chair Kevin Cullen's summary of the past year, and the introduction of our 2019 Board Chair Dan Heist, CPA. (This replay begins 11:45 minutes in.)

    A recap of ACS leaders' presentations follows:

    Gary announced the great news that we exceeded our 2018 revenue goal, and he gave a big shout out to the Northeast Region volunteers and staff and its EVP Kris Kim "for leading the way." He also gave a personal shout out to Chris Hansen, who is retiring as president of ACS CAN on Feb. 1. "He has been a trusted friend, advisor, and mentor to me, and I have learned so much from being in Chris's presence," Gary said.

    Among other 2018 achievements, Gary cited:

    • Launching the Cancer Control Blueprint and publishing five chapters of it
    • Increasing colorectal cancer screening rates and introducing new colon cancer guidelines that lower the screening age to 45
    • Launching our Mission: HPV Cancer Free campaign
    • Increasing the number of patient rides to treatment by 38%, to 475,000
    • Making great progress toward the 2019 launch of Navigation Tools
    • The onboarding of 7,300 new volunteers 
    • Launching BrightEdge Ventures, our philanthropic impact fund that aims to get treatments to patients more quickly
    • Delivering a balanced budget to the Board for 2019

    Gary said in in 2019 we will create a new strategic plan for 2020-2025. "I want your American Cancer Society to become the Amazon of the non-profit cancer world. . . To be innovators, disruptors, changing the whole landscape of the cancer space. That's the goal and now we have to figure out strategically how we are going to get there," he said.

    Gary also announced the new ACS Cultural Beliefs, which will be rolled out to staff and volunteers later this year. They define how we will work together:

    • Win Together - I work for team ACS and refuse to be divided over differences.
    • Be Aligned - I align with organizational decisions and lead others to do the same.
    • Reach Out  - I consistently collaborate to maximize opportunities, and always act in the best interest of the enterprise.
    • Raise the Bar - I press for excellence, commit to make progress, and demonstrate urgency in all that I do.
    • Create Moments - I strive to create memorable and valued experiences every day.
    • Do It - I take ownership for my goals, deadlines, and for delivering results.

    Gary said he is "really excited about where we are now . . . From this solid foundation, we can accelerate our efforts to make this disease less frightening."

    Next up was Len Lichtenfeld, MD, our acting chief medical officer, who gave an update on the state of cancer and an overview of our Research Department. Delivering good and bad news, he cited the 27% decline in cancer deaths over 25 years, and the worldwide obesity problem expected to cause cancer rates to rise. He said our Intramural Research Department will be applying strategies we learned in tobacco control to combat obesity and inactivity, and improving what we know about physical activity, sedentary behavior, and healthy eating by collecting objective device-based data from 20,000 CPS-3 participants.

    Perhaps the most provocative thing Dr. Len discussed was blood tests that one day may be able to finds cancers that have evaded detection. Finding markers for ovarian, liver, and pancreatic cancers through blood samples have shown very promising early results. "We are not there yet, but it is close to becoming a reality," he said.

    New treatments for metastatic melanoma are keeping patients alive for four, five and six years, and it's too early to tell how long they will live. Have we found a cure? Dr. Len said he doesn't know, "but what I do know is that we have treatments and we have hope, while just a few years ago we had nothing."

    Rich Wender also delivered upbeat news. Smoking is at an all-time low, with smoking rates at 15.5% for adults, 7.9% for adolescents, and 2.1% for middle schoolers. Thanks to a two-year $1.3 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we will be increasing access to cessation programs for public housing residents. Smoking was banned in and near public housing in the U.S. last summer.

    Thanks to another grant, this one for $3.5 million from Pfizer and secured by the North Region, we will be working to decrease breast cancer inequities by ensuring high-risk women in targeted areas get necessary care, from screening through treatment.

    Rich gave updates on our two current campaigns, Mission: HPV Cancer Free and our colorectal cancer screening campaign 80% in Every Community (previously called 80% by 2018). Ninety-one Federally Qualified Health Centers that received a grant from ACS have seen their HPV screening rates go up an average of 15.8%. Also, 175 clinical leaders and survivors have been trained and are engaged to help lead the HPV campaign. "These volunteers will lead our way to success," he said. Rich also had high praise for the ACS marketing team, noting the huge amount of publicity Mission: HPV Cancer Free has garnered so far. 

    Rich announced that this year's winner of the National Mission: HPV Cancer Free Campaign Award is the South Region. Congratulations! You may remember that the South Region secured an anonymous $4.6 million three-year donation to increase HPV vaccination rates in North Texas. (And, the federal government is giving us $11 million for this campaign!)

    80% in Every Community, like 80% by 2018, will strive to get 80% of age-appropriate Americans screened for colorectal cancer. From 2012 to 2016, screening rate in people 50 to 75 increased by 2%, representing 5.1 million more people screened. The screening rate in the Medicare population, ages 65 - 75, is 78.4%, while the screening rate among those 50 to 55 is just 49%.

    Rich predicted that the next major ACS national campaign will be to reduce lung cancer mortality. 

    A theme we heard repeatedly was the American Cancer Society's commitment to ending health disparities. While ethnic disparities have generally been decreasing, disparities based on socio-economic and educational status are growing. "Tackling the social determinants of health will require different polices and positions and demand engagement of all sectors. We are now on a learning tour to really figure out what our place might be in that journey," Rich said.

    PHOTOS: Pictured in the top photo, from left, CEO Gary Reedy, 2018 ACS Inc. Board Chair Kevin Cullen, MD, and 2019 ACS Inc. Board Chair Dan Heist. In the smaller image, from left, are Kevin Polke, Heddie Sumpter, Shanna Lee, and Melissa Park.

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