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#EastCoastRelay2020 expects to raise $500,000

​Northeast and Southeast Regions collaborate on virtual event

Relayers in 18 states and the District of Columbia came together last Friday night, June 26, for a virtual Relay For Life.

You can watch the replay here. As of Monday morning, more than 8,000 viewers either tuned in to the live event or watched the replay.

The Push our Progress fundraising challenge leading into the broadcast raised more than $479,000 and, with dollars still coming in, the team anticipates hitting $500,000! 

The lineup of guests included:

  • Volunteers: Donielle Deitz, Nan Jenkins, Joe Gillette, Yamile Rivera, and Jeff Ross
  • Alpa Patel, PhD, senior vice president, Population Science
  • Saul Gonzalez, Cancer Information Specialist at our Natoinal Cancer Information Center (NCIC)

Saul, a 21-year cancer information specialist at NCIC, shared just how important our 1.800.227.2345 number is, especially now. "During this pandemic, patients are feeling alone, often isolating at home, and frustrated because they can't bring anyone with them to their cancer-related medical appointments," he said. "More than one cancer patient has told me that we're one of the the first people who actually listened to them, that we didn't rush them off the phone. As an over-nighter, I can tell you that this pandemic has affirmed how vital we are." 

Alpa told viewers that "we are really in a crisis situation right now," and "at the point where we are running the risk of losing potentially a generation of discoveries." Labs had to be shut down because of the pandemic, and there is an unexpected cost to restarting research. 

Congratulations to the whole East Coast Relay For Life team of staff and volunteers from the Northeast and Southeast Regions on a tremendous event!

  • Oklahoma becomes 37th state to increase access to health coverage through Medicaid

    Oklahomans approval of Medicaid expansion will improve health outcomes and reduce cancer disparities for 200,000 citizens now eligible for health care coverage.  

    On June 30, a majority of voters responded "yes" to Question 802, which asked if Medicaid should be fully expanded to low-income adults earning less than $17,609 a year for an individual and $36,156 for a family of four, as permitted under the federal health law. The vote was 340,279 to 333,761.

    The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president. 

    "This victory is an incredible development for public health in Oklahoma, which currently has the second-highest uninsured rate in the nation. According to American Cancer Society research, uninsured rates in Medicaid expansion states fell from nearly 10 to about 3.5 percent between 2011-2014,while in non-expansion states the decline was much smaller, from 15 to 14 percent. This decline in the number of uninsured, also resulted in a statistically significant shift toward stage I diagnosis in common cancers like, lung, breast and colon. ACS studies have found, for instance, low income women were 25% more likely to adhere to screening guidelines in expansion states than in non-expansion states. Early detection of cancer increases a patient's chance for survival&#and decreases treatment costs. With this vote, Oklahomans have elected to save lives and long-term health care costs.

    "Tuesday's vote also comes as more than two-thirds of Oklahoma's rural hospitals operate at a loss, and at least half the state's hospitals are at-risk of closure. Ensuring more individuals have access to health coverage through Medicaid will mean much needed additional revenue to these hospitals, by ensuring rural residents have greater access to cancer screenings, treatment and follow-up care, as well as positively impacting rural community economies statewide where these health systems are located. 

    "ACS CAN is grateful to all our volunteers in Oklahoma who worked hard to encourage their fellow Oklahomans to vote yes on Question 802 and commends the voters for standing up for the health of their neighbors, family and friends."  

    When the initiative goes into effect, Oklahoma will join the 36 other states, and the District of Columbia, that have increased access to their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income residents. 

  • ACS is now on TikTok

    Submit your TikTok fundraising ideas

    We're excited to share that ACS is now on TikTok. In addition to fun content that seeks to entertain and educate, we're asking you to use your TikTok for good.

    Starting the week of July 6, a TikTok donation sticker for ACS will be available and 100 percent of donations received on the platform will go to ACS so we can continue attacking cancer from every angle. 

    Anyone can use the donate sticker! After creating a TikTok, head to stickers > support nonprofit and select American Cancer Society. And don't forget to follow @AmericanCancerSociety

    We're looking for ACS content creators, both volunteers and staff, for TikTok. Got the moves or big ideas? Send an email to to discuss being featured on the channel.

  • Three ACS researchers to receive Real-World Data Impact Award

    The three $75,000 grants will fund the study of quality and equity in cancer care and outcomes

    Three ACS-funded researchers will receive additional funding to advance patient-centric research and, as an added benefit, will be allowed access to Flatiron Health's national de-identified oncology datasets curated from electronic health records. 

    ACS and Flatiron designed the grant-making program in 2019 to advance patient-centric research among currently funded ACS investigators with experience in health services or outcomes research. ACS oversaw the selection process, while Flatiron provides the funding - all with a goal to accelerate cancer research and improve treatment and outcomes for patients.

    Using Flatiron Health’s de-identified real-world datasets, the researchers will study immunotherapy effectiveness in frail patients with non-small cell lung cancer; equitable access to genomic testing and personalized treatments in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer; and racial disparities in the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer.

    The recipients of the 2020 awards are:

    • Minal Kale, MD is an assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. She will conduct a comparative effectiveness study of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in individuals with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and poor performance status. Dr. Kale will study a longitudinal, demographically and geographically diverse sample of individuals with advanced NSCLC to learn more about the benefits of immunotherapy in individuals with poor performance status. These findings will provide key insights into the treatment of patients who are typically excluded from clinical trials. 
    • Siran M. Koroukian-Hajinazarian, PhD, is an associate professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. Dr. Koroukian-Hajinazarian will conduct a retrospective cohort study to evaluate patterns of genomic testing and targeted therapy in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer to assess the impact of patient and practice characteristics on receipt of these services. These findings will help identify new opportunities to improve the quality and equity of cancer care in patients with advanced colorectal cancer.
    • Ying Liu, MD, PhD, is an assistant professor of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She will conduct a retrospective cohort study to examine the differences between African American and European American patients with metastatic breast cancer in the treatment patterns and adherence to therapy. Dr. Liu will also assess the roles of sociodemographic and clinical factors in observed differences in treatment patterns, as well as patient survival and disease progression. These findings will enhance our understanding of underlying reasons for previously reported racial disparities in patients with metastatic breast cancer. 

    “Particularly in the current environment, ACS is grateful for the potential of these grants to use real-world data to help expand the scope of questions our researchers are able to answer,” said Bill Phelps, PhD, senior vice president for Extramural Research. “We look forward to seeing how Flatiron’s additional funding and access to this data may help these investigators in their quest to improve patient outcomes in cancer.”

    Headquartered in New York City, Flatiron Health is a healthcare technology and services company focused on accelerating cancer research and improving patient care. Its platform enables cancer researchers and care providers to learn from the experience of every patient. Currently, Flatiron partners with more than 280 community cancer practices, seven major academic research centers, and over 15 of the top therapeutic oncology companies. 

    Its website says: "At Flatiron, we believe that learning from the experience of every cancer patient is an imperative — it is the key to accelerating research and continuing to improve the quality of care. What stands in the way is an overwhelming technology challenge: Much of the available, real-world clinical data is unstructured and stored across thousands of disconnected community clinics, medical centers and hospitals. It is a problem that we believe we can solve."

  • ACS helps make cancer treatments more available in Africa and Asia

    Cancer Access Partnership is expected to result in a 59% savings on cancer medicines

    ACS and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) today announced agreements with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Novartis, and Mylan to expand access to 20 lifesaving cancer treatments in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Purchasers are expected to save an average of 59% for medicines procured through the agreements. 

    The countries included in the agreements are: Botswana, Cameroon, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, in Africa; and Vietnam, India, and Myanmar in Asia. Oncologists, government officials, and nonprofit organizations in many of these countries contributed to these agreements by sharing information and feedback to the CHAI team.

    Medications included in the agreements cover recommended regimens for 27 types of cancer and enable complete chemotherapy regimens for the three cancers that cause the most deaths in Africa—breast, cervical, and prostate. These cancers are highly treatable and account for 38% of cancers in the countries covered in the agreements. The new agreements include both chemotherapies and endocrine therapies aligned to evidence-based guidelines harmonized for sub-Saharan Africa, and expand access to additional formulations, including those essential for treating childhood cancer.

    "With cancer cases increasing at such a rapid rate in sub-Saharan Africa, access to affordable cancer treatment that meets the quality standards set by a stringent regulatory authority is imperative," said Bill Cance, our chief medical and scientific officer.

    In 2018, there were an estimated 811,000 new cases of cancer and 534,000 deaths from cancer in the region. Cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely to die as those in the United States, often due to late diagnosis and lack of access to treatment. Based on population aging alone, annual cancer deaths in sub-Saharan Africa are projected to almost double by 2030. The new agreements reach 23 countries in Africa, covering 74% of the annual cancer cases.

    This new Cancer Access Partnership is an initiative of Allied Against Cancer and an expansion of the Chemotherapy Access Partnership. ACS and CHAI began working together in 2015 to improve care and treatment of cancer in sub-Saharan Africa, working with governments and cancer treatment institutions to address market inefficiencies, improve supply chains, and increase procurement to ensure quality medications were available at affordable prices. This collaboration has shown that access to high-quality cancer treatments can be expanded in a sustainable way.

    In 2017, Allied Against Cancer members ACS and CHAI announced agreements with Pfizer and Cipla to expand access to 16 essential cancer treatment medications in six countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The market access agreements secured competitive prices, allowing these governments to realize substantial savings and improve the quality and quantity of treatment available. As a result of the agreements, several African governments and hospitals increased their commitment to procuring necessary cancer medicines by using the cost savings to increase the volumes of medicines procured, setting up innovative systems to supply high-quality cancer medications, and increasing budgets for cancer care and treatment. Countries that accessed products through the agreements saved an average of 56%. As a result, patients have new levels of access to quality chemotherapies in nearly all of the countries included in the original agreements. Three new countries were added in November 2019.

    The market access agreements are part of a broader effort to improve access to quality cancer care in Africa. In 2019, ACS, CHAI, the African Cancer Coalition, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and IBM joined to form Allied Against Cancer. This coalition is leveraging the strengths of each organization to connect with and empower the African oncology community to deliver high-quality cancer care and is working to pursue additional market-based collaborations to increase access to cancer medicines in the region.

    NCCN, ACS, and CHAI are also working with the African Cancer Coalition, which comprises 110 leading oncologists from 13 African countries, to adapt the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) to create the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa. These guidelines outline pragmatic approaches that provide effective treatment options to improve the quality of care in resource-constrained settings, and are available free of charge to health care providers. IBM and ACS also developed ChemoSafe, a suite of training resources for regional healthcare personnel to guide the safe transportation, storage, administration, and disposal of hazardous drugs.

  • ACS researchers offer solutions to reduce health disparities in rural America

    ​Highlight critical role of adequate health insurance coverage

    An editorial about rural cancer disparities by members of our Surveillance and Health Services Research team was published June 24 in JCO Oncology Practice, an American Society of Clinical Oncology Journal.

    “Rural Cancer Disparities in the United States: A Multilevel Framework to Improve Access to Care and Patient Outcomes” lays out the disparities suffered by rural residents. Because of the central role of health insurance coverage in ensuring access to cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, they highlight solutions related to expansion of health insurance coverage options as part of the Affordable Care Act, including expansion of Medicaid eligibility for adults with and without children. The authors note that after Medicaid expansion in 2014, rural-urban disparities in insurance coverage among newly diagnosed cancer patients age 18 to 64 years were eliminated in Medicaid expansion states, but remained  in nonexpansion states.

    In addition, there is currently no national policy requiring state Medicaid programs to cover routine care for clinical trial participants. Lack of coverage is thought to be associated with lower clinical trial participation among Medicaid enrollees in states that do not cover routine care costs.

    “Reducing rural cancer disparities will require multilevel interventions, with coordinated efforts at the patient, provider, community, and policy levels. Scientists have been highlighting the need for multilevel approaches to address persistent health disparities for many years,” the researchers wrote.

    “Increasing insurance coverage options for rural adults through Medicaid expansion and availability of other coverage options, improving local provider coordination with cancer centers, and creating shared resources and expertise through networks such as the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program and telemedicine, and developing broader community-based resources to support and promote healthy lifestyles may improve access to cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Coupled with Medicaid coverage of routine care costs for clinical trial participation and travel for care in all states, these efforts may increase trial participation among rural residents and reduce rural cancer disparities.”

    Read the full editorial. Its authors are Robin Yabroff, PhD; Xuesong Han, PhD; Jingxuan Zhao, MPH; Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH; and Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD.

  • Hero of Research Award winners "meet" grantee they are supporting

    The grant is named for a teenager in their community fighting cancer

    The Hero of Research Award offers Relay For Life teams that raise at least $165,000 during the Relay season an opportunity to name an existing post-doctoral fellowship research grant in honor of a loved one or their team. Once identified, this named grant is active for three years. 

    The Naturals from the Relay For Life of York, PA received this honor in 2019 and named its first grant “Gabby Galino and The Naturals of UNFI Hope Research Grant.” This grant honors Gabby Galino, a 13-year-old student at Northern Middle School in York County, PA, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. 

    The Hero of Research Award gave team co-captain Daryl Holstay (pictured here) and other members of The Naturals an opportunity to virtually meet Sarah Hengel, PhD, recipient of the grant (pictured above with Daryl), and Kara Bernstein, PhD, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh and principle investigator for the lab Dr. Hengel is a part of. 

    Watch this video highlighting the fundraising efforts of The Naturals and the cancer research being made possible by its grant.

    About the team

    The Naturals joined the Relay community more than 10 years ago as a very small team. They were able sell donated organic/natural produce and health and beauty products from the company (UNFI) at Relay events to raise dollars to support ACS. As the product grew, and with the team captain’s position in the company, it afforded him the opportunity to work with vendors and buyers to gather more product to sell at supporting events for the team, as well. Due to their efforts, The Naturals raised more than $166,000 in 2019!   

    In 2019, two other teams qualified for the Heroes of Research Award — Nucor Steel Louisiana (from Relay For Life of St. James Parish, LA) and Ravens in the Hood (from Fighting Cancer to the Coast in Seaside, OR). Among the three teams, they raised more than $285,000 over what they did in 2018.

  • A fundraising season of light is coming

    Save July 16 at 7 p.m. ET for an hour-long kickoff of entertainment and inspiration

    An exciting digital campaign and dynamic virtual experience is coming to ACS July 16 through October! 

    Share the Light is designed to engage survivors, caregivers, health conscious individuals, as well as existing donors and volunteers in a fundraising season of light. Together we must illuminate the critical need to increase our funding to fight cancer through new and existing revenue channels.

    The July 16 kickoff will feature a diverse array of celebrities, special guests, moving stories and an illumination moment you won’t want to miss. You’ll also hear ideas on how to carry your own light forward to advance and accelerate the fight through existing ACS events, via virtual fitness challenges, or in ways unique to you.

    What you can do RIGHT NOW: Help create that July 16 illumination moment! We need our volunteers, community partners, and staff to to create videos/images: 

    1. Simply create a video or snap a photo sharing a light in any way you’d like.
      • Examples: lighting a candle, turning on your mobile phone light
    2. Post the video/image to your social media channels using #sharethelight and tag family members, friends, or co-workers, and encourage them to do the same
      • Sample Post: I am helping illuminate the critical need to increase funding for the cancer fight. I challenge (tag your friends/family) to do the same. #sharethelight
    3. Check out examples of the types of videos/images we’re looking for here:

    4. Be on the lookout for more details. Thank you for joining this effort and shining a light on this urgent, life-saving need.

  • ACS CAN supports lawsuit to force FDA to take action against menthol tobacco products

    ​Tobacco industry’s targeting of African Americans must end

    On June 17, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California claiming that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) failure to ban menthol cigarettes violates federal law, and that continued delay was projected to result in an estimated 4,700 premature deaths in the African American community.

    The case argues that FDA is in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act for unreasonably delaying action required by the Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, and despite compiling extensive scientific data showing that menthol poses a public health risk beyond that of regular cigarettes. 

    Below is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, ACS CAN president.

    “The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has been urging FDA to prohibit menthol, including in cigarettes, in our call for a total flavor prohibition in all tobacco products for years. The agency’s inaction is a curious deference to the tobacco industry on a product, which if prohibited, would help reduce tobacco initiation among youth and stimulate cessation among adult users, saving lives from disease and death caused by menthol cigarettes. ACS CAN strongly supports The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC) and Action on Smoking and Health’s (ASH) decision to file suit against FDA on this issue. 

    “Big Tobacco has used menthol cigarettes to deliberately and aggressively target African Americans, youth, LGBTQ communities and low-income communities for decades. And it has worked. African Americans consistently report the highest prevalence of menthol cigarette use. It is well documented that menthol in cigarettes increases smoking initiation, decreases successful quitting and leads to greater addiction. Failing to address menthol flavoring in tobacco is failing to address a serious health inequity in our country.

    “Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and the leading contributor to lung cancer. Removing this weapon from Big Tobacco’s arsenal would help address health disparities in tobacco-related disease and save lives. 

    “In the vacuum created by FDA, Congress has worked to take its own action. ACS CAN is encouraged by the House passage of The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act in February to prohibit menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products. Furthermore, some cities and states across the country have made progress in ending Big Tobacco’s targeting of children by ending the sale of all flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes which target African Americans. However, FDA has the power and obligation to make this change swiftly and effectively throughout our country. We stand with AATCLC and ASH in their call for the agency to stop the tobacco industry’s shameless targeting of African Americans with menthol products, including cigarettes.”

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