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FDA approves HPV self-collection for cervical cancer screening

ACS applauds decision, which will expand access.

The US Food and Drug Administration on May 15 approved primary human papillomavirus (HPV) self-collection for cervical cancer screening in a health care setting. The American Cancer Society applauds this decision, as it will expand access to cervical cancer screening, providing a more convenient and private option for all women and people with a cervix. 

Self-collection is when a patient uses a collection kit to take a vaginal sample that will be tested for HPV, the virus that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer. There are many advantages of self-collection compared to provider-collected screening samples. This news covers self-collection in the presence of a provider, not at-home collection. A subsequent approval phase may include at-home self-collection. 

ACS experts anticipate self-collection at a health care setting will play an increasingly prominent role in cervical cancer screening once regulatory and clinical prerequisites are in place and as supporting evidence continues to accumulate.

Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can prevented through regular screening.

“Despite the benefits of cervical cancer screening, not all women and people with a cervix get screened regularly,” ACS Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Bill Dahut said in a news release. “Most cervical cancers are found in people who have never had a cervical cancer screening test or who have not had one recently. That’s why adding self-collection as a screening method for this potentially deadly disease can make a huge impact.”


  • ACS and Sleep Number bring home a Gold Halo Award

    ​On May 15, the American Cancer Society and Sleep Number Corporation were awarded the 2024 Gold Halo Award for Best Intersectional Initiative. The Engage for Good Halo Awards are one of the highest honors in corporate social responsibility and social impact initiatives. This year, more than 120 submissions across 15 categories from some of the biggest nationally recognized brands and nonprofit partners were up for consideration.  

    The Halo Award celebrates an incredible partnership with Sleep Number and our joint efforts to advance sleep-focused cancer research, cancer prevention, and patient support. What makes this honor even more special is being one of the very first winners in the category of Best Intersectional Initiative. As a brand-new category for 2024, ACS and Sleep Number are proud to set the standard for innovative partnerships that make a real impact.

    Since 2020, ACS and Sleep Number have worked tirelessly to push boundaries, innovate, and grow -- from revolutionizing cancer care through sleep-focused research to supporting our Hope Lodge communities with sleep solutions. This win also marks a special moment for both Sleep Number and ACS. It's Sleep Number's first Halo award, highlighting their commitment to social impact, while ACS enjoys its first win in over a decade. 

    Representatives from ACS and Sleep Number were honored to attend the Engage for Good Conference and the first-ever 'The Halos' Gala in Minneapolis. Chair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sleep Number, Shelley Ibach, and ACS EVP, ​North Region, Dave Benson, were on hand to accept the award, pictured above and at right.

    For more information on the partnership and its impact, visit cancer.org.

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  • New bipartisan legislation could clear the path to clinical trials

    ACS CAN says Clinical Trial Modernization Act would help remove cost and geographic barriers.

    Federal legislation that would make it easier for all cancer patients to participate in clinical trials was introduced on May 15 in the House. Sponsored by Reps. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), the Clinical Trial Modernization Act is bipartisan legislation that would increase access to clinical trials by helping remove cost and geographic barriers to patient participation.

    The legislation would allow clinical trial sponsors to provide financial support to patients for costs associated with their trial participation, including medical cost-sharing like copays, and non-medical expenses such as travel, parking, food and lodging. It would also allow trial sponsors to provide patients with the necessary technology to facilitate remote participation in clinical trials. These provisions would help ensure that all patients are able to participate in clinical trials, including those who are underrepresented in clinical trials, like older adults, people with limited incomes, certain racial and ethnic groups and people who live in rural areas.

    According to an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) survey of cancer patients and survivors, 79 percent of respondents indicated they would be more likely to enroll in a clinical trial if sponsors supported them financially to offset non-medical costs. Eighty percent said they would be willing to use remote technologies and tools in a trial.

    “Clinical trials are essential for continuing to improve cancer prevention, detection, treatment and survivorship, but are out of reach for far too many patients,” ACS CAN President Lisa A. Lacasse said in a statement. “The Clinical Trial Modernization Act can give more patients—regardless of how much money they make or where they live—a chance to enroll in the best treatment options available by reducing barriers to enrollment due to cost and access issues.”

    The legislation would also amend the Internal Revenue Code so that stipends or other forms of payments like per-diems that are provided by a trial sponsor, up to $2000, are not considered as taxable income or counted against income limits for programs such as Medicaid.

    Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be able to provide grants for community education, outreach and recruitment activities to enable greater clinical trial engagement with underrepresented populations. Grant-eligible activities would include working with community trial sites and community health centers, training health care personnel and clinical trial investigators, engaging community stakeholders to encourage clinical trial participation and fostering partnerships with community-based organizations serving those communities.

    “The Clinical Trial Modernization Act will help improve access to lifesaving clinical trials and help accelerate the development of new and better treatment options for all patients,” said Lacasse. “We urge Congress to quickly take up this bill and pass it into law.”



  • ACS PAWS program returns

    Second annual grant cycle increases funding.​

    ACS is thrilled to announce the launch of the second cycle of our competitive grant opportunity, aimed at expanding access to animal-assisted therapy in pediatric oncology settings. Ten grants will be awarded to children's hospitals. Applications should be submitted by Friday, May 31!

    In 2023, ACS PAWS (Pups Assisting with Support) awarded 10 children’s hospitals $8,000 each to support their facility dog programs and the therapeutic benefits of animal-assisted therapy.

    That first grant cycle was so successful that we’re expanding funding from 10 grants at $8,000 to 10 grants at $10,000. Grants will be awarded to children’s hospitals for a project period spanning from September 2024 to August 2025. 

    Widely considered a safe and desirable intervention for children with cancer, animal-assisted therapy for hospitalized children has been shown to decrease symptoms like anxiety, stress, depression, and pain, and increase quality of life indicators like feelings of joy and calmness, positive memories from hospitalization, and improved sense of well-being.

    Hospital facility dogs receive extensive, specialized training to provide goal-oriented, therapeutic interventions and emotional support. They work full-time alongside an expert handler like a certified child life specialist in hospitals. The ACS PAWS grant program fills a critical gap for institutions as animal-assisted therapy programs are primarily supported by philanthropy efforts. Collectively, the projects are estimated to have impacted more than 10,000 children and families affected by cancer.

    The link to apply is included in the request for applications guideline, so be sure to apply by May 31! Awardees will be notified on July 31. 

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  • ACS CAN Lights of Hope Logistics Team seeks help

    Submit by June 13 to be considered to assist in set up and take down of display in Washington, D.C.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Lights of Hope Logistics Team is calling on interested ACS CAN and American Cancer Society (ACS) team members and volunteers to join them in helping to make this year’s 14th Annual Lights of Hope another monumental event. 

    On Tuesday, Sept. 17, ACS CAN will host its National Lights of Hope during ACS CAN’s annual National Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, which will be held Sept. 15 - 18 in Washington D.C. Since 2011, Lights of Hope has been ACS CAN’s signature fundraising event to honor and remember those who have been touched by cancer, while raising funds to help end the fight against cancer as we know it, for everyone. Again, this year, a solemn display of nearly 10,000 lights will adorn the Constitution Gardens Pond in D.C. to honor cancer survivors and memorialize those who lives were lost due to the disease. The event will be held in tandem with Lights of Hope displays across the country including a collective total of more than 60,000 lights.

    Those who participate as members of the ACS CAN Lights of Hope Logistics Team will volunteer to assist in the set up and take down of Lights of Hope throughout Constitution Gardens, guide attendees as needed as well as lead a team of other volunteers to complete this task, potentially lasting 12+ hours. 

    To apply, please complete the submission form by Thursday, June 13. ACS CAN and ACS team members are encouraged to discuss interest with their manager prior to completing the form. ACS CAN and ACS volunteers should inform their staff partner of their desire to help with this year’s D.C. Lights of Hope before submitting the interest form. Every qualified applicant will be entered into a lottery for selection. Once selected, ACS CAN and ACS team members and volunteers will be contacted by an ACS CAN team member to verify information, grant approval, and provide specific details related to the event. Travel, hotel, and meal expenses will be covered for members who reside outside of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

    For additional information or questions about ACS CAN’s Lights of Hope Logistics team, contact Rachael Eerdmans, associate director, Advocacy Volunteer Engagement at rachael.eerdmans@cancer.org.


  • Fit2BeCancerFree Employee Challenge surpasses 1.2M miles logged

    Step challenge winners are announced for 2024 campaign.​

    The ACS Fit2BeCancerFree Employee Challenge concluded May 9 with more than 2.7 billion steps tracked and more than $898,000 in donations. More than 21,000 participants joined the virtual step tracking challenge this year, which was open to all companies and CEOs and encouraged employers to rally colleagues, friends, and communities to get active in support of our work to end cancer.

    Through the MoveSpring app, the employee challenge participants experienced a virtual journey that encouraged steps each day, engaged employees with ACS through motivational milestones, and helped to raise funds for our mission. Congratulations and many thanks to the 2024 challenge winners in the following categories: 

    • National Employee Challenge Winner (most distance accrued): McKesson with a total of 237,718 miles.
    • Mission Impact Winner (most dollars raised): State Compensation Insurance Fund with $100,100 raised.
    • Highest Average Participation (highest average distance per participant): Acquis Consulting, pictured at right, with an average of 6.16 miles per participant per day.

    Fit2BeCancerFree kicked off on April 18 with the 24-hour CEO challenge, followed by the three-week Employee Challenge that concluded on May 9. The final leaderboard for all participating CEOs and organizations, including Team ACS, can be found at cancer.org/fit2be.

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  • Forbes names ACS one of this year's Best Employers for Diversity

    ACS recognized in top 75 organizations out of more than 1,300 companies.​

    The American Cancer Society has been named on the Forbes 2024 list of the Best Employers for Diversity. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider.

    “The American Cancer Society is proud to be recognized for our organization’s commitment to striving for equity through inclusion and respect, as part of our Core Values. We are building a workplace culture of inclusion and belonging, where diverse experiences and perspectives are welcomed and encouraged,” said Dr. Karen Knudsen, Chief Executive Officer at the American Cancer Society. “Not only are these efforts central to building a healthy and vibrant environment for our team members, but they are also an essential strategy in the fight to ensure that all people have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.”

    The Best Employers for Diversity 2024 were identified in an independent survey from more than 170,000 U.S.-based employees working for companies employing at least 1,000 people within the U.S. The evaluation was based on three criteria:   

    • Personal Recommendations: Employees were asked to give their opinions on a series of statements regarding age, gender, ethnicity, disability, LGBTQIA+ status, and general diversity in their current workplace.
    • Public Recommendations: Participants were also asked to evaluate other employers in their respective industries that stand out either positively or negatively regarding diversity.   
    • KPIs: The evaluation included extensive research on how companies fared across a range of diversity-related best-practices, including representation, accountability and communication, internal initiatives, and external involvement. 

    Based on the results of the study, ACS was recognized among the top 75 organizations on the Forbes list of the Best Employers for Diversity 2024. More than 1,300 companies were assessed, and the 500 organizations with the highest scores made the final list.

    “At ACS, diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational to our mission. Our Employee Engagement Groups (EEGs), which welcome all team members, regardless of identity, background or heritage, are the cornerstone of our efforts. I’d like to thank our EEG leaders for their dedication to expanding cultural awareness, promoting real dialogue about inclusion and helping inform our ongoing efforts to address health inequity and the resulting disparities in healthcare outcomes,” said Tawana Thomas Johnson, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at the American Cancer Society.

    Through groundbreaking research, dedicated funding and support for public health legislation focused on reducing health disparities across diverse and multicultural populations, ACS continues to work to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to live a healthy life, prevent cancer, detect it early and receive high-quality treatment and support when they need it.

    For more information about ACS’ efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond, visit cancer.org.



  • ACS CAN finds majority of cancer patients and survivors have or expect to incur medical debt

    Latest Survivor Views survey shows impacts of cancer-related medical debt are unequal and deepen disparities.

    On May 9, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released its latest Survivor Views survey. The survey, which surveyed participants nationwide who have been diagnosed with or treated for cancer in the last seven years, shows nearly half of cancer patients and survivors have medical debt related to their cancer.

    Nearly half of cancer patients and survivors surveyed (47%) have had medical debt related to their cancer, and another 13% expect to incur medical debt as they proceed with their care. Among those with cancer-related medical debt, nearly all (98%) were insured when their medical debt occurred.  The majority of those with cancer debt (49%) have carried over $5,000 in medical debt. Sixty-nine percent have carried this debt for more than a year and over a third (35%) have had medical debt related to their cancer for more than three years.

    The financial and health implications of medical debt for cancer patients and survivors are severe. According to the survey, an individual with cancer-related medical debt was three times more likely to be behind on recommended cancer screenings in comparison to those who have been able to pay for their care without accumulating debt. Nearly half (49%) saw their credit score decrease with 30% having difficulty qualifying for loans.

    “The findings present a grim picture where the burden of medical debt is a common occurrence following a cancer diagnosis – even amongst those who are insured,” said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse. “This shouldn’t be our nation’s reality. The data further reiterates the urgent need for Congress as well as state lawmakers to all work to enact policy solutions to reduce the massive impact of medical debt by both preventing it altogether and helping families who are already facing medical debt.”

    The impacts of cancer-related medical debt are not felt equally and further deepen disparities. Black and Hispanic patients and survivors with medical debt are about twice as likely as White respondents to report being denied care due to their debt (13% and 14%, respectively). Black respondents are also more likely to report being contacted by collections agencies (66%) and to feel harassed by them (44%).

    The survey also found cancer patients and survivors are very supportive of ACS CAN’s new policy recommendations, designed to help reduce medical debt related to cancer and to help families already struggling with medical debt.

    The survey was released during ACS CAN’s 13th annual National Policy Forum on the Future of Health Care in Washington, D.C. As part of ACS CAN’s ongoing advocacy work to help improve access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage, this year’s forum focused on the complexities of medical debt and its implications for cancer patients and their families. A recording of the event will be available for viewing at www.fightcancer.org/2024nationalforum. Please note that you must be registered to view the replay. If you have not registered, please click on the "If you did not pre-register, click here" and enter the information required to view the recording.

    ACS CAN’s Survivor Views research initiative was designed to support the organization’s efforts to end suffering and death from cancer through public policy advocacy. Data provided by cancer patients and survivors allows for a greater understanding of their experiences and opinions on cancer-related issues and gives voice to cancer patients and survivors in the shaping and advocating of public policies that help prevent, detect, and treat cancer and promote a more positive quality of life for those impacted. 

    The data was collected between March 18 and April 14, 2024. A total of 1,284 cohort participants responded to the survey. Differences reported between groups are tested for statistical significance at a 95% confidence interval.  

    Read the full polling memo here.  

    For more information on Survivor Views, visit ACS CAN’s website at www.fightcancer.org/survivor-views.


  • ACS and NFL Crucial Catch partnership amplified at NFL Draft in Detroit

    A week of exciting events demonstrated shared commitment to health equity.

    Since 2009, the National Football League (NFL) and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to fight cancer and save lives through the Crucial Catch initiative, which helps more people catch cancer early, and addresses the unequal burden of cancer in under-resourced communities. 

    During the 2024 NFL Draft week in Detroit, the league and ACS collaborated on a series of events to amplify the partnership and the shared commitment to health equity.

    NFL Draft Week Pre-events

    On April 22, the NFL, Detroit Lions, American Cancer Society, Henry Ford Health, and local community health center The Wellness Plan, hosted a healing arts activity for cancer patients and mammogram recipients. Research suggests art therapy helps relieve the emotional concerns of a cancer diagnosis. The visit was meant to demonstrate the partnership commitment to health equity during Minority Health Month and highlight the importance of early detection and effective follow-up care for improving breast cancer outcomes.  Henry Ford Health and The Wellness Plan are recent recipients of an American Cancer Society Links to Care grant funded and made possible by the NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative.

    On April 23, ACS team members in Southeast Michigan hosted the Game Changer panel event at the Detroit Pistons practice facility to bring together 75 influential members of the community for a closed “friend-making” event. The panel featured NFL retired players and future draftees who provided insights from their NFL Draft experiences and shared their personal connections to cancer. 

    ACS Senior Executive Director of Michigan Jenni Beamer provided insight on cancer progress and needs in the market, encouraging attendees to keep conversations going to find solutions together. As an extension of the NFL’s partnership, the panel was moderated by our NFL partner, Communications Coordinator A’maiya Allen. 

    NFL Draft Days, April 26 -27 

    The NFL leveraged its draft stage platform, in front of a record-breaking number of attendees in Detroit, to highlight the causes it supports. The league invited a mother daughter duo, both breast cancer survivors, to join the event for a truly memorable experience that included backstage access to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and one of their sports heroes, Detroit Lions running back legend Barry Sanders, both pictured at right. The survivors also had the opportunity to share their story and highlight the importance of early detection, a key component of the NFL Crucial Catch.

    On the final day of the draft festivities, ACS was proudly represented on the stage by a pediatric cancer survivor who lost his leg and went on to play college football. He had the opportunity to announce the Denver Broncos pick during round 5.

    Crucial Catch

    Since 2009, Crucial Catch has raised more than $30 million and impacted more than 1 million people in communities that need it most. Money raised through Crucial Catch supports the ACS Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program. The program promotes health equity and addresses cancer early detection disparities through community-based cancer prevention programs that increase access to necessary cancer screenings.   

     


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