ASCO’s Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO, issued the following statement on “Cancer Statistics, 2021,” a report published annually by the American Cancer Society.
Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO
“Fifty years after President Nixon signed the National Cancer Act to make cancer a national public health priority, we continue to see its lasting impact on progress against cancer as demonstrated by the 31% decline in overall cancer mortality between 1991 and 2018, driven largely by substantial reductions in lung cancer mortality related to a decline in smoking, improved screening, and better treatment.
“While we celebrate this remarkable progress, the report lays bare the stark reality that disparities in cancer outcomes continue to disproportionately affect Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Alaska Native people. The findings in this report reflect the disheartening truth that a patient’s race, socioeconomic status, and geographic location can determine one’s chances of surviving cancer. The oncology community must confront and address the complex forces and systems that have led to these unacceptable gaps in cancer outcomes. At ASCO, we have embedded a health-equity lens into all our activities. More than ever, we are committed to advocating for policies that improve access to equitable high-quality cancer care for all patients.
“The report also notes that it is too early to know the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer mortality. ASCO’s own research shows that COVID-19 has resulted in significant delays in cancer screenings and disruptions to many critical cancer clinical trials. We have also laid out a comprehensive set of recommendations to guide the cancer community’s eventual recovery from the public health emergency. We expect the coming years will show the worrying ripple effects of interruptions to cancer care during the global pandemic, but ASCO will work to address these challenges as we move forward.
“ASCO commends the American Cancer Society for annually monitoring cancer incidence, mortality, and trends in the United States. We will continue our efforts towards furthering the progress we have made in treating cancer and eliminating disparities in care.”