HRSA-funded health centers to partner with National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers to improve equity in cancer screenings 

September 26, 2022 – The HRSA has awarded over $5 million to 11 HRSA-funded community health centers to facilitate access to life-saving cancer screenings and early detection services for underserved populations.  These first-of-their-kind partnerships are bringing health centers together with National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers. This announcement advances President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot goals, which aim to close the cancer screening gap, decrease the impact of preventable cancers, and support patients and caregivers. 

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 600,000 deaths annually. Significant disparities continue to exist in screening and follow-up care after an abnormal cancer screening test result, based on an individual’s income, insurance status, and race or ethnicity. These cancers can be prevented or detected early through appropriate screening and timely follow-up care. 

These awards focus on increasing equitable access to cancer screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer. Health centers will conduct patient outreach in underserved communities to promote early detection of cancer, connect patients to screening services, and provide hands-on assistance with accessing high quality cancer care and treatment as needed. 

The health centers receiving Accelerating Cancer Screening awards must work with NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, which will deploy their outreach specialists and patient navigators in the health center’s service area. Example activities may include care coordination; patient engagement and activation; enhancing virtual care capabilities; tracking patient screening, referrals, and follow-up; enhancing health IT workflows; and workforce engagement, training, and recruitment. NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer. 

“This partnership between NCI-Designated Cancer Centers and HRSA’s health centers will bring to bear the significant expertise of the cancer centers in engaging the communities they serve and will help provide underserved and rural patients access to follow-up care, including screening and cutting-edge clinical trials,” said NCI Acting Director Dr. Doug Lowy. “This landmark interagency collaboration represents the kind of innovative partnerships that will further advance the Cancer Moonshot and end cancer as we know it.” 

President Biden has reignited the Cancer Moonshot and set new national goals, including cutting the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and improving the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer. HHS’ Department-wide engagement strategy is focused on making this year the “Year of Screening and Prevention,” to support the President’s Cancer Moonshot and make up for the estimated 9.5 million missed cancer screenings during the pandemic. The strategy intends to identify barriers and solutions to increase access to early cancer detection and preventive health. 

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