Three-quarters of all states are falling short in the fight against cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the non-profit advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. The annual report, ‘How Do You Measure Up?’ A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, now in its 12th year, illustrates how states stand on issues that play a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and death.
How Do You Measure Up? found that 10 states and the District of Columbia are making progress in enacting and strengthening policies that fight cancer, while the remaining 40 states are falling short. Oklahoma is falling short, meeting ACS CAN’s benchmarks in 1 of the 12 issues. Only one state meets nine out of 12 benchmarks and no other state meets more than seven out of 12. To help guide state policymakers, the report provides grades of red, yellow and green based on a current snapshot of state laws.
The report identifies and measures 12 specific policy actions that state legislatures can take to fight cancer, focusing on issues relating to tobacco control policies, cancer prevention and improving access to care. Examples include, a state’s smoke-free law or tobacco tax level, funding for cancer screening programs, restricting indoor tanning devices for minors, whether or not a state has increased access to care through their Medicaid program or if they offer a well-balanced approach to pain medications. The report also offers a blueprint for states to effectively implement provisions of the new health care law in a way that benefits cancer patients and their families.
It is estimated that more than 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and more than half a million people will die from the disease this year alone. In Oklahoma in 2014, 19,830 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 7,980 will die from it. With the knowledge we have today, we could prevent roughly half of cancer deaths in the United States. Research shows that achieving that goal requires stronger tobacco control laws, better access to cancer screening and treatments and policies that support proper nutrition and physical activity.