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National Minority Quality Forum and Exact Sciences’ Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative Leads Cancer Moonshot Initiative to Increase

The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), a national nonprofit leading the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative aligned with President Joe Biden’s reignited Cancer Moonshot, kicked off efforts to increase early-stage detection cancer screenings in Flint, Michigan on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service on Monday, January 16th.

Last year President Biden’s Cancer Cabinet, comprised of over 20 U.S. government departments and agencies, identified priorities to close the gap in cancer screening disparities nationwide, decrease the impact of preventable cancers as well as understand and address environmental exposure, among other goals toward ending cancer as we know it. The National Cancer Institute acknowledges the link between environmental injustice and increased cancer incidence and representatives of the White House Cancer Moonshot team connected NMQF with community leaders and academic researchers to explore ways to increase health resources for the community in Flint, Michigan.

“President Biden’s goal for the Cancer Moonshot is to cut the cancer death rate at least in half over the next 25 years and to improve the experience of people, their families and caregivers, living with and surviving cancer. That work begins and ends with reaching communities like Flint and not only ensuring we promote new ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, but make certain that the tools we have and those we develop along the way reach all Americans.” Dr. Danielle Carnival, White House Cancer Moonshot Coordinator.

The Biden-Harris Administration has expressed interest in the promise of tests that could detect one of more cancers at the earliest stages and the National Cancer Institute has committed to supporting a trial to test these technologies. Multi-cancer early detection technology (MCED) are blood-based tests (also called liquid biopsies) that are designed to identify the presence of cancer in early, more treatable stages and can have a positive impact in communities where there is increased patient risk of cancer.

In a recent survey conducted by NMQF, 42% of people living in and near Flint, identified cancer as their top health concern. While there are a number of efforts underway to examine the incidence of cancer in Flint, NMQF will host the Flint Community Cancer Screening and Health Fair with Exact Sciences Corporation, a molecular diagnostics company with an emphasis on the detection of early-stage cancers, and Meridian of Michigan, a Michigan-based provider of government-sponsored health plans, offering free cancer screening and education, COVID/influenza vaccinations, and general health screenings as well as complimentary lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Berston Field House at 3300 Saginaw Street in Flint, Michigan.

“Dr. King once said that injustice in health was the most inhuman form of inequality because it leads to death that could have been prevented. Earlier detection of cancer should be accessible to everyone, not just those who can afford to pay out-of-pocket,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum. “NMQF’s community health fairs are effective ways to remove knowledge gaps, arm community leaders in a sustainable way with resources, and make quality care accessible in vulnerable and minoritized communities, which have traditionally faced many barriers to screening.”

“This day of service honoring Dr. King offers the opportunity to help people prevent and learn about cancer. As a Flint native, I’m passionate about this cause and community,” said Kevin Conroy, Chairman & CEO, Exact Sciences. “Together with local organizations and healthcare systems, we’re building support for Flint’s cancer prevention and detection efforts and look forward to helping decrease the community’s cancer burden.”

“At Meridian, we understand the value and potentially life-saving nature of preventive cancer screenings, which improve the health and wellbeing of our members and local communities,” said Patty Graham, Plan President and CEO of Meridian of Michigan. “We are proud to partner with the National Minority Quality Forum and other local partners to bring a fun, educational event to the Flint community on such a historic day.”

The Flint Community Cancer Screening and Health Fair is made possible with the participation of national and local partners – Hurley Medical Center, McLaren Flint Hospital, Hamilton Community Health Network, St. Mark Community Outreach Center, Michigan United, Genesee County Health, MI-CARES, American Cancer Society, Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Nation Outside, Tigerlily Foundation and Fight Colorectal Cancer.

Initiative to Increase Awareness & Access to Early Detection Cancer Screening in Flint

Special guests including Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Mayor of Flint Sheldon Neeley, Alan Walts, EPA Director for Environmental Justice for Region V joined NMQF President, Dondre Young, Regional Manager for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow and CEO Dr. Gary Puckrein, Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy, Meridian CEO Patty Graham and local community leaders to raise awareness of the need to increase cancer detection and diagnosis in Flint.

The mission of the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative is to move medical standards in the country from late-stage to early-stage detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer; improving cancer care, and reducing the incidence of cancer deaths for all, with a particular focus on health equity in underrepresented populations. In the coming year, the Cancer Stage Shifting Initiative will support efforts to increase cancer screening for at-risk communities in Flint, Michigan, support community-based engagement to increase awareness of cancer risk and treatment, improve clinical trial diversity as well as support efforts to understand the impact of the water crisis on cancer risk in the community.

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