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Lacks’ Legacy Impacts Battle Against Cancer

by Emma Watson, MPH / American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc. - February 4, 2021

The Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act aims to increase access and remove barriers to participation in federally sponsored cancer clinical trials among communities that are traditionally underrepresented. The bill is named after Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman who died from cervical cancer and whose cells, taken without her knowledge or consent during her treatment, have been used to develop some of modern medicine’s most important breakthroughs, including the development of the polio vaccine, treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease.

Communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have higher cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed at early stages.

The American Cancer Society released an annual report on cancer statistics and found overall cancer death rates in the United States dropped continuously from 1991 through 2018 for a total decrease of 31%. An estimated 3.2 million cancer deaths have been prevented due to reductions in smoking, earlier detection, and improvements in treatment.

However, disparities continue to exist. Survival rates are lower for Black patients than for White patients for every cancer type except pancreas. In addition, geographic disparities are widest for the most preventable cancers such as lung and cervical cancer. We need to do more to ensure that every individual has an opportunity to live a healthy life.

If you would like to learn more about the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act please visit the following links.
New Legislation Aims to Decrease Disparities in Access to Cancer Clinical Trials: https://www.fightcancer.org/releases/new-legislation-aims-decrease-disparities-access-cancer-clinical-trials
The Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act: https://www.fightcancer.org/sites/default/files/National%20Documents/11.%20Henrietta%20Lacks%20Enhancing%20Cancer%20Research%20Act%20Fact%20Sheet%202020.pdf

Credits:

Videography: Ethan Chabala
Video Editing: Ethan Chabala
Writing: Emma Watson, MPH / American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc.
Anchor: Rhonda Pearson

Produced by Vogt Media
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