Special to the Record
The American Cancer Society (ACS), National Football League (NFL) and the New England Patriots have awarded a grant to Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) to address lung cancer mortality by increasing screenings and supporting smoking cessation efforts. The grant funding was made possible through ACS’s partnership with the NFL and the league’s Crucial Catch campaign.
The grants are the latest in ACS’s Community Health Advocates Implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity program, which provides funding opportunities as part of the ACS’s commitment to reduce cancer disparities. CHA, an academic community health system that provides care in Cambridge, Somerville, Malden, Chelsea, Revere and Everett, will receive $125,000 over a two-year period. The grant is one of eight being awarded nationwide and is the first time the Crucial Catch program has expanded to address lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, responsible for about one in four deaths. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women but takes more lives than any other. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The ACS estimates there will be about 228,150 new lung cancer cases and 142,670 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2019.
“We are very excited to have been selected for this funding to help support the patients and communities served by CHA, where there is a significant burden of cancer,” said Alexander White, MD, CHA’s chief of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. “Of these cancers, lung has the highest mortality and the lowest rate of early/local stage diagnosis. This suggests that access to care and regular screening for lung cancer are not where they should be and that the barriers our patients face to accessing care need to be addressed. Thanks to ACS and the Patriots Foundation, we will be able to implement targeted programming and tools for shared decision-making around lung cancer screening in high-risk communities and enhance community outreach strategies.”
On Thursday, November 21, the Patriots and ACS formally presented the grant at an event at CHA Everett Hospital with staff, providers and members of CHA’s Board of Trustees.
Since 2009, the NFL’s Crucial Catch has raised more than $20 million in support of ACS. Funding raised since 2012 has supported ACS’s CHANGE program. This program promotes health equity and addresses cancer early detection disparities through community-based cancer prevention programs that increase access to necessary cancer screenings. The program officially launched in 2012 within 17 communities across the country. Since 2012, the NFL has funded over 200 projects in safety-net, primary care systems within 100 miles of an NFL market to increase cancer awareness and access to potentially life-saving screenings. The “Crucial Catch” program expanded to include colorectal cancer, cervical cancer and HPV vaccinations in 2017. Now in 2019, the NFL/ACS partnership has further expanded to help ACS address lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the U.S. To date, 1 million individuals have been reached with education, navigation, and screening reminders.