The importance of America’s public health system stretches far beyond the urgency of the coronavirus pandemic. Good public health starts with prevention, which includes preventing one of America’s deadliest diseases: cancer.
Each year about half of the nation’s 600,000 cancer deaths could have been prevented through existing public health measures. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control cancer screening programs, which supply states and communities with resources to provide breast, colon, cervical and other cancer screenings to people in need, are so important. They can save lives and help address health disparities. For instance, although Black and White women get breast cancer at about the same rate, death rates are 40% higher for Black women, in part due to screening inequities. The result is cancer that is more often diagnosed at later stages when treatment options are fewer, and survival is less likely.
Increased cancer prevention funding can reach these people before it’s too late. I made that clear to U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs’ office during a meeting this month. I understand the importance of doing everything possible to tackle this disease and it pains me to know we’re not fully utilizing the tools we have and are neglecting communities in need. If we are going to come out of this pandemic stronger and healthier, we need to do whatever we can to strengthen public health, including better funding these essential CDC cancer prevention programs.
KAREN CONNOR, Wilson, state lead ambassador-volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network