In 2013, more than 1.6 million Americans will develop cancer and more than 580,000 are expected to die from it. Yet, more than 50% of cancer cases are preventable by applying knowledge we already have.
The mission of the cancer prevention and control platform is to develop and implement community‐based efforts in cancer prevention, screening, early detection and survivorship to achieve a measurable reduction in the cancer burden, particularly among the poor and underserved. The platform engages specialized expertise, including community and business partners, to develop and implement cancer prevention and control programs through policy interventions, public and professional education programs and community clinical services. The goal is to reduce established cancer risk factors (e.g., tobacco, obesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, excessive ultraviolet exposure, failure to undergo recommended cancer screenings) and cancer (e.g., incidence, morbidity, mortality) in the community.
Texas indoor tanning legislation
MD Anderson’s Governmental Relations department, in collaboration with the Melanoma Moon Shot team, worked with many Texas stakeholders to advance this legislative priority, which was enacted on Sept. 1, 2013, as SB329. The platform team played a key role in educating Texas legislators about the potential cancer risks associated with tanning bed use and served as the primary scientific and clinical resource for the legislation, which increased the legal age youths can access tanning beds from 16.5 years to 18 years. This legislation is expected to lower the incidence of skin cancer linked to the use of tanning devices in Texas and reduced health care costs associated with this change.
Leaders engaged experts from across MD Anderson to develop a comprehensive plan to address the burden of tobacco use on institutions, communities, states and nations. The End Tobacco plan recommends more than 100 actions in the areas of policy, education and community-based services that MD Anderson can take to end tobacco at the institutional, local/regional/state and national/international levels.
Healthy communities initiative
Through this project, the platform team seeks to partner with various Texas communities to promote and facilitate adoption of healthy lifestyle behaviors among residents through implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention interventions addressing nutrition, physical activity, tobacco use, sun exposure and cancer screenings. The emphasis in these community collaborations will be on interventions involving policy and environmental changes to maximize impact. Community engagement and systematic evaluation of health needs and interventions are key components of this initiative.
MD Anderson plan for a comprehensive early childhood and youth education (K-12) approach to cancer prevention: tobacco and ultraviolet radiation protection
The platform leveraged MD Anderson’s expertise in the areas of tobacco use prevention and cessation and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) protection in youth populations to develop a tobacco and UVR protection plan consisting of dynamic and standards-aligned curricula and evidence-based strategies to promote tobacco use prevention and cessation and UVR protection among school-aged youth. The platform team is exploring partnerships with relevant stakeholders to implement and disseminate the K-12 plan to schools and youth organizations throughout Texas and beyond.
International collaborations in cancer control
Currently, two international collaborations in cancer control are being developed by the platform. First, a Mexico‐Texas joint initiative focuses on interventions targeting tobacco use prevention and control for Mexican children in Mexico and the U.S., beginning in Texas. Second, a Medellin, Colombia, cancer control initiative will develop tobacco control programs to address the tobacco use burden in that city.
Smoke‐free Texas legislation
An ongoing legislative priority for MD Anderson, the platform team and other statewide stakeholders is “smoke‐free Texas” legislation to ban smoking in indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants, to protect Texans from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. While municipalities throughout Texas are passing local ordinances, a consistent statewide policy is not possible without state legislation due to the large number of unincorporated areas throughout the state.