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Statement by Association of Community Cancer Center's President Regarding Negative Long-Term Effect of Pandemic to Cancer Care

Rockville, MD— The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) today released the following statement from ACCC president, Dr. Randall A. Oyer, in response to recent comments by Norman E. Sharpless, MD, National Cancer Institute Director, on COVID-19 impact on cancer deaths for years to come. Dr. Sharpless expressed concerns about delays in screening and altering cancer treatment regimens due to COVID-19.

“The ACCC concurs with Dr. Sharpless that the COVID-19 pandemic poses added danger to cancer patients across a wide spectrum of cancer care and research. We share the NCI’s  concerns regarding short and long term effects of delayed diagnosis due to interrupted screening or access to care, deferred or non-standard treatment, and reduced access to clinical trials.

However, we want to assure our patients and their families that we are still here and are still providing life-saving care. Our cancer teams are doing whatever it takes to make sure that our patients get the best possible cancer care, and we are doing it in the safest possible manner. Across our communities, ACCC and its members work tirelessly to eliminate health disparities, so that all people benefit equally from advances in cancer care.

From the onset of the COVID crisis, ACCC has focused its educational programming on helping cancer programs and practices keep up with rapidly changing medical information and important new safety requirements.  ACCC engages national experts and shares information among its members across the U.S., allowing members to learn from each other and adopt effective practices. 

ACCC members have access to topical webinars, a peer-to-peer communications platform, expert interviews, and on-demand audio podcasts all focused on the effects of COVID and ways to mitigate its effects.

Across the country, ACCC member cancer programs have carefully instituted the best available safety measures that keep patients, families, and staff safe and well cared for during this pandemic.  Additionally, the whole cancer team continues to provide essential care- physicians, nurses, social workers, navigators, pharmacists, financial navigators, mental health practitioners, and others. 

The message to patients, families, and friends: do not delay your screenings. Cancer does not delay. Please make your appointments with your doctors. Keep up with your treatments. Get your mammograms and colonoscopies.  Early diagnosis, early treatment, and evidence-based cancer therapies can be life-saving.”

About the Association of Community Cancer Centers

The Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) is the leading education and advocacy organization for the cancer care community. Founded in 1974, ACCC is a powerful network of 30,000 multidisciplinary practitioners from 1,700 hospitals and practices nationwide. As advances in cancer screening and diagnosis, treatment options, and care delivery models continue to evolve - so has ACCC - adapting its resources to meet the changing needs of the entire oncology care team. For more information, visit Follow us on social media; read our blog, ACCCBuzz; tune in to our CANCER BUZZ podcast; and view our CANCER BUZZ TV channel.