To assist in its advocacy efforts, the American Cancer Society is mapping cancer mortality rates and state legislative activity to help show which regions and districts of the country could be doing more to fight the disease.
The American Cancer Society is hoping that mapping cancer mortality rates by congressional districts as well as grading state cancer-related policies will help in its advocacy efforts to end the disease.
Earlier this month a group of ACS researchers released a report that paints a telling picture of disparities in death rates across the country’s 435 congressional districts. They found, for example, that death rates for lung and colorectal cancer are typically lowest in Mountain states and highest in Appalachia and some areas of the South. Congressional districts in Utah, meanwhile, have some of the lowest cancer mortality rates.
“The substantial variation in overall cancer death rates by congressional district is driven primarily by economic, racial, and urban-rural disparities in access to care and risk factor prevalence,” Rebecca L. Siegel, director of surveillance information for ACS, said in a statement. “Investing in cancer prevention and treatment programs could help curtail the disparity in death rates as well as the current explosion in cancer costs.”
On the state level, ACS’s advocacy affiliate, the Cancer Action Network, recently released the 13th edition of its progress report on state legislative activity, which indicated thatmany states are not doing enough to prevent and fight cancer.
The “How Do You Measure Up?” report found that most states are meeting benchmarks in two to three, out of nine, policy areas that have been proven to prevent the disease.
“Most states are failing to implement laws and policies that not only prevent cancer and save lives, but lower healthcare costs and generate revenue at the same time,” Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN, said in a statement. “By enacting evidence-based policies that encourage cancer prevention, guarantee access to affordable health care, curb tobacco use and improve patients’ quality of life, state lawmakers can create a legacy of better health.”
Some of the nine policy areas include smoke-free workplace laws, tobacco taxes, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, funding for cancer screening programs, and indoor-tanning restrictions for minors.
“This report highlights the proven policy interventions available to state lawmakers that can not only eliminate barriers to the prevention and treatment of cancer but also benefit the financial health of their states,” Hansen said.