The region known as Appalachia stretches 250,000 square miles and includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states. Of Appalachia’s 420 counties, 25 percent are rural. Approximately 25.7 million people call the region home. The poverty and lack of healthcare resources that characterize this area have led to sustained, elevated levels of morbidity and mortality for many diseases, including cancer. Compared to other regions in the U.S., Central Appalachia has the highest cancer rate in the region at 32 percent higher than the national rate. Since the start of the pandemic, Americans have missed nearly 10 million recommended cancer screenings.
In response to the need for cancer screening and care in Appalachia, ACCC—together with several of its state chapters—launched the Appalachian Community Cancer Alliance (the Alliance) in December 2021. This project is a partnership with several state oncology societies representing the Appalachian region. The focus is on improving patient and operational cancer outcomes by identifying effective evidence-based practices that can be replicated throughout the region.
One of the major initiatives under the Alliance, is to increase lung cancer screenings in Appalachia where the cancer mortality rate is 10 percent higher than the national rate. ACCC was identified by the White House’s Cancer Moonshot initiative as one of the five private sector actions in response to the goal of Bringing Cancer Screening to More Communities through its Rural Appalachian Lung Cancer Screening Initiative.
First launched in 2016, the Cancer Moonshot Initiative seeks to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent within the next 25 years. Earlier this year the administration reignited the initiative with a call to action on cancer screenings.
The Rural Appalachian Lung Cancer Screening Initiative consists of a partnership between ACCC and the LUNGevity Foundation, a nonprofit committed to improving the lives and survivorship of lung cancer patients. Public health experts from the Appalachian region, as well as representatives from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer are also serving in advisory roles.
This initiative will seek to increase lung cancer screening rates by identifying and addressing informational, literacy, and cultural barriers that inhibit rural Appalachian residents from seeking preventative cancer care. Partnering with local advocates, the initiative will focus on developing and implementing new patient-centric approaches to promote the importance of these screenings. Best practices identified by the initiative will be shared with ACCC members and the broader oncology community.
If you have any questions about either the Appalachian Community Cancer Alliance or the Rural Lung Cancer Screening Initiative, please contact the ACCC Provider Education department.
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PharmaVoice, June 7, 2022
FACT SHEET: Private Sector Steps Up on Cancer Moonshot Call to Action on Cancer Screening
The White House News Release, May 11, 2022
The Rural Appalachian Lung Cancer Screening Initiative is made possible by support from AstraZeneca.