Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care to All Americans

NCI supports research to understand and improve how cancer care is delivered in the United States. The ultimate goal of this research is to ensure that high-quality cancer care is available and accessible to all Americans wherever they live.

Developing, implementing, and sustaining state-of-the-art cancer prevention, screening, and treatment programs for rural populations, will be particularly challenging. Rural populations often face substantial barriers in accessing quality health care due to a shortage of doctors, lengthy distances to medical facilities, limited transportation options, and other factors. In addition, rural populations frequently have high rates of tobacco use, poverty, poor health literacy, and drug and alcohol abuse, which contribute to higher cancer risks and poorer health outcomes.

Research Priority

Identify and Address Factors that Influence the Delivery of Quality Cancer Care

NCI supports research on the delivery of cancer care through its Healthcare Delivery Research Program and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program. This research includes studying barriers to the implementation of evidence-based cancer prevention, screening, and treatment methods; recommended follow-up care for cancer survivors; and psychosocial support programs for patients and their caregivers. The ultimate goal of this research is to optimize the delivery of high-quality cancer care to all Americans, thereby helping to reduce the burden of cancer in the United States. Some of NCI’s activities in this area include:

  • Supporting telecommunications research on the use of broadband technologies to promote improved cancer prevention and care in both rural and urban areas. This research, for example, led to the online program A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience (ASPIRE), which is aimed at middle and high school students.
  • Working with other organizations through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP). NCI and the other NCCCP members support comprehensive cancer control activities in U.S. states, territories, Pacific Island jurisdictions, and tribes and tribal organizations. Activities include efforts to increase HPV vaccination uptake, increase colorectal cancer screening, and increase availability of tobacco cessation services for cancer survivors—areas that are described in previous sections of this Annual Plan and Budget Proposal.
  • As NCI strengthens its efforts in cancer control and prevention, the needs of Native American and Alaska Native populations are particularly important. These populations have unique needs and concerns that can be challenging to address. For example, Native Americans and Alaska Natives have higher incidence and death rates from certain cancers than other populations groups. This population is diverse, and culturally relevant prevention and early detection efforts are needed. NCI is working to address these needs.

Audio described version of the Addressing Cancer Disparities Among American Indian and Alaska Native Populations video

Cancer disparities research is a critical part of NCI's research portfolio. The three researchers featured in this video received funding from NCI to conduct disparities research among American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Stories of Impact

Cancer incidence, mortality, and risk factors vary widely across the United States. Regional variations are seen for all population groups, but some populations, including rural populations, are affected more adversely than others. The development of culturally relevant outreach and interventions is necessary to ensure cancer health equity across the nation.

Addressing Cancer Disparities in Appalachia

“For people struggling to make ends meet, the last thing on their minds is health care,” said Electra Paskett, who has devoted her 30-year career to addressing cancer disparities experienced by underserved groups in the United States. “The question we want to answer is how to reach them,” she said.

Electra’s efforts to address cancer disparities through science and community partnerships, which NCI has supported over the last two decades, have led to important improvements in cancer screening and care in rural and low-income populations where cancer rates have remained stubbornly high. Populations in the Ohio Appalachian region and inner-city African Americans, in particular, have benefited from her studies.

Key Takeaway

  • NCI supports health care delivery research, infrastructure, and partnerships that will increase accessibility to high-quality cancer care to all individuals in the United States, including those in minority and underserved rural populations.