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ACS CAN hosts first-ever live streamed National Policy Forum

On May 11, nearly 390 both virtually and in-person, attended the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) 11th Annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care held at the Ronald Regan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Picture above is one of the three panels held during the forum that addressed the unique barriers cancer care specific populations endure.

The forum provided enriching and thought-provoking conversations on solutions to end disparities in health care. Nationwide research findings continue to show the challenges and barriers underserved communities endure to access affordable cancer care.

According to preliminary data from a forthcoming American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Survivor Views survey, more than one-third of Black respondents and approximately 30% of Hispanic respondents indicated the quality of care in their area as a barrier, compared to roughly 1 in 5 of white respondents. The ongoing survey, which is being fielded to cancer survivors and patients, found that the majority of respondents ranked access to community-based resources like quality local hospitals and community clinics, as having the most impact on improving cancer outcomes.

“We know that access to affordable, quality cancer care is far from equitable,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Ensuring equity in cancer care is a key priority for ACS CAN. All people who are diagnosed with cancer, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or geographical location should be able to get and expect to get the best care possible. These are urgent issues that demand urgent action.” 

As national experts on health equity and reducing disparities in cancer care, keynote speaker Dr. Karen M. Winkfield, Executive Director, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance, and luncheon speaker Dr. Elizabeth Fowler, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), addressed the importance of placing patient voices at the forefront when making important decisions on public policy issues at all levels of government. 

This year’s forum also highlighted three distinctive panels on population-community specific challenges and public policy and private sector solutions to offer further dialogue and creative solutions to combat disparities endured by specific cancer patient populations, including communities of color, older patients, and LGBTQ patients and survivors. Each panel intentionally featured multiple varied perspectives and backgrounds from patient advocates, ACS and ACS CAN volunteers, practitioners, academics and business leaders, and elected officials.

ACS CAN volunteers Jacqueline Y. Beale, Rachel M. Fournier, and Diane Nathaniel shared their personal stories and passion to help end suffering and death from cancer, along with reinforcing access to affordable quality care is far from equitable. 

Special guests Shirley and Jeri Lacks, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter of Henrietta Lacks, were also in attendance at this year’s forum and are pictured in the smaller photo. Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her knowledge or consent, died from cervical cancer. ACS CAN played a major role in passing legislation named in her honor, the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act. The law directs the federal government to study policies that impact diverse participation in federally sponsored cancer clinical trials nationwide and recommend potential policy changes that would reduce barriers and make it easier for patients who represent communities that are traditionally underrepresented – communities of color, older adults and people with limited incomes -- to enroll in clinical trials.

A recording of ACS CAN’s 11th Annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care can be viewed online. To access the recording, please enter your email address. If you did not pre-register for the event, please click on the “if you did not register click here button” and complete the form.

To view additional photos from the forum, visit ACSCAN (@ACSCAN) / Twitter #cancerequitynow.

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