Every day, more than 120 people in Georgia are diagnosed with cancer. That is an average of more than 41,000 new cancer cases each year. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Georgia, taking the lives of an estimated 16,630 people in 2013.
“If we follow the evidence, we can save lives,” says James Hotz, M.D., with the American Cancer Society and co-Chair of the Georgia Cancer Consortium, an independent group of cancer experts, survivors, physicians, and prevention specialists. The Cancer Consortium together with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has outlined a series of strategies in a new five year plan to reduce the number of cancer cases and deaths in Georgia, and ensure quality care for cancer survivors.
The plan, which is a product of extensive input from more than 80 stakeholders from across the state, describes Georgia’s eight priories: cancer risk reduction, tobacco and obesity; vaccination for human papilloma virus; breast and cervical cancer screening; colorectal cancer screening; lung cancer screening; quality cancer diagnosis and treatment; access to palliative care and survivorship; patient navigation.
Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH, director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at DPH oversees Georgia’s chronic disease prevention and cancer programs. “This is what makes a comprehensive plan and makes strong public and private partnerships so important.”
Nancy Paris and Angie Patterson with the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (CORE) are actively involved in development of the plan and its implementation as one of DPH’s partners. Paris, Georgia CORE’s President, is a steering team member and administrator of the DPH Breast Cancer Genomic Health Consortium funded by CDC.
“The inclusion of genomics goals in the plan ensures that Georgia will continue to build on latest research and most promising discoveries in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer” says Paris. “Through the implementation of the plan, we will continue to see innovations linking public and private resources”
Angie Patterson, a 13-year cancer survivor and Vice President of Georgia CORE, co-chairs the plan’s steering team and leads the development of CORE’s Survivorship Connection. According to Patterson improving the quality of life for Georgia’s 350,000 cancer survivors is a cross-cutting priority of the plan.
“A person’s health is not only the product of the health care that she or he receives, but also the result of genetic factors, behavior, and the physical, social, and policy environment in which she or he lives,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., DPH commissioner. “No single thing is going to cure cancer.”
Click to read the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Plan in its entirety.