The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the availability of $5 million for community health centers, funded by HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration, to increase equitable access to life-saving cancer screenings.
This funding supports President Joe Biden’s Unity Agenda and his call to action on cancer screening and early detection as part of the Administration’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to end cancer as we know it.
“Cancer screening saves lives – and it should be accessible to all Americans,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “In partnership with National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers, we are giving community health centers in underserved communities funding to provide life-saving cancer detection and referrals to treatment. As we continue to support President Biden’s mission to end cancer as we know it, equity must be at the center of all that we do so that we can remove barriers to care.”
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 600,000 deaths annually. In 2021, there were an estimated 281,550 instances of breast cancer and 14,480 instances of cervical cancer diagnosed in women, and 149,500 instances of colorectal cancers diagnosed in both men and women. Breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer can be prevented or detected early through appropriate screening and timely follow-up care. Yet, significant disparities exist in screening and follow-up care after an abnormal cancer screening test result, based on an individual’s race or ethnicity, income, and insurance status.
HRSA-funded community health centers are uniquely positioned to engage and support underserved patients in overcoming all-too-common obstacles to accessing life-saving cancer screenings. In addition to helping health centers address and remove barriers to care, this funding will help increase the number of health center patients screened for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancer. Also, with support from National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center partners, this funding will help ensure that health center patients have hands-on assistance accessing high quality cancer care and treatment if needed.
President Biden recently reignited the Cancer Moonshot, which was first launched in 2016 when he was Vice President, with the mission to reduce the cancer death rate by at least 50% over the next 25 years and support families living with and surviving cancer. Because of recent progress in cancer therapeutics, diagnostics, and patient-driven care, as well as the scientific advances and public health lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now possible to set ambitious goals and to end cancer as we know it today.