The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, ACS CAN, is the nation’s leading cancer advocacy group.  They feel some of the important decisions about cancer are made outside of medical offices. Where are they made? They are made by our lawmakers on the local, state and federal levers. ACS CAN also works to empower the individual to part of pushing back against cancer and have their voices heard.

I had the pleasure of taking with Hillary Schneider the State Government Relations and Advocacy Director, Maine, ACS CAN. She was in the station to talk about the 11th annual ‘How Do You Measure Up? Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.The report looks at how the states are doing on a number of issues that play important roles in reducing cancer and cancer related deaths. The overall answer from what I could see was, we as a state and a nation could be doing A LOT better.

The report is an interesting read and has very easy to understand graphics that sum up a number of issues. I like a good graphic representation. The reports talk about tobacco taxes, smoke free laws and programs to stop smoking. Tanning beds, colorectal, breast and cervical screening.  There is also a focus on pain control and palliative care as well as obesity, foods and good old physical activity. We also talked a little about how the new health care laws will help in this arena. Each section will look at the problem, and what lawmakers can to take action to help with these heath care policies.

I encourage you to check out the report. See how Maine is doing. How the nation is doing?  The report concludes that 12 states and DC are making progress in shoring up policy to fight cancer.  The other 38 states, not so much, in Maine we the ACS CAN benchmarks in 3 of the 10 issues.  AND no state met more that 6 out of the 10.  The hard part to hear from Hillary was Maine had been doing much better, but the state is sliding backwards on these bench marks.

In Maine, 9000 people will be diagnosed with cancer. Over 3000 will die. Nationally 1.6 million will be diagnosed and over half a million will die. Those numbers are just for this year, 2013!!!! Research shows that about half of cancer deaths in the United States are preventable. What ACS CAN is looking for is better access to cancer screenings and treatment as well as public policy that supports proper nutrition and physical activity.

Hillary Schneider was kind to give me about 20 minutes to talk about the new report, here is what she had to say on  11th annual ‘How Do You Measure Up? Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.