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Community Outreach and Engagement Advocacy and Policy

ACC investigators are involved in a number of ongoing advocacy and policy initiatives to decrease cancer incidence and mortality rates in the ACC catchment area and nationally including:

  • Anti-tobacco policy and legislation. Frank Leone, MD, MS (TEC) helped the University of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia establish tobacco-free workplace and public space laws, and led the Philadelphia Tobacco-Free Recovery Initiative, in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Brian P. Jenssen, MD, MSHP, an advocate of policies that restrict e-cigarette sales to youth (Jenssen, Children 2019, 6(2) 30) also successfully lobbied the City of Philadelphia to prohibit the sale of vaping products with flavorings and high nicotine content in youth-accessible retail establishments. Following his testimony to City Council, the city enacted a ban in all stores that permit sales to minors. Andrew A. Strasser, PhD recently published the positive impact of the tobacco retailer licensing regulations that were passed in Philadelphia in December 2016 by Board of Health vote and implemented beginning in January 2017. Prior to the adoption of these regulations, Philadelphia had up to double the number of retailers per 1000 people (2.21) compared with other major cities — including New York City (1.15); Chicago, Illinois (0.92); San Francisco, California (1.05) and Washington, DC (1.20) contributing to Philadelphia’s high adult smoking prevalence, which approaches 20%. (AJPH.2019.305512)

  • Asbestos contamination in Philadelphia Public Schools. Trevor M. Penning, PhD expanded his community engagement work focused on asbestos from his Superfund Research Program to include the Philadelphia School District, which recently recognized widespread asbestos exposure. Dr. Penning serves as a partner in the Healthy Schools Initiative, a collective of experts and community stakeholders advising the City of Philadelphia on methods to reduce harmful exposure to unhealthy school building conditions.

  • Cancer clinical trials accessRobert H. Vonderheide, MD, DPhil and Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE lobbied the Pennsylvania legislature and governor to pass Senate Bill 576, Cancer Clinical Trial Access for Pennsylvania Patients, which made clear that financial support for incidental costs of participating in treatment clinical trials are not undue influence (passed unanimously in 2018).  Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe has published several perspectives about the impact of Right to Try legislation (Lynch et al., JCO, 2019; JAMA. 2018;320(9):869-870; N Engl J Med. 2018 Feb 22;378(8):695-697.).

  • CAR-T cell therapy access. Justin E. Bekelman, MD (CCP) and David L. Porter, MD (Hematologic Malignancies) led policy efforts at FDA and CMS to address the unaffordability of CAR-T cell therapies (Manz et al., JCO, 2019).

  • HPV vaccination. ACC supports nationally recognized efforts by members to engage teens, families, providers and cancer survivors to play a major role in increasing the HPV vaccination rate in the catchment area. This led to Philadelphia having the highest rate of HPV vaccination among teens (13-17) in the US (89.8%). Alexander G. Fiks, MD, MSCE (CCP) and his collaborators at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) developed, tested and disseminated a vaccination decision support system in the EHR, promoting a practice policy of vaccinating at every opportunity (Fiks et al., Pediatrics, 2016). Its implementation is now being evaluated nationally across 60 primary care practices (R01 CA202261).

  • Medicaid expansion. Samuel U. Takvorian, MD, MS, Ronac Mamtani, MD, MSCE, Lawrence Nathan Shulman, MD and Justin E. Bekelman, MD recently determined that Medicaid expansion was associated with a decreased rate of uninsured patients and increased rate of early-stage cancer diagnosis among patients with breast, colon, and lung cancer (JAMA, 2020).

  • Obesity. Funded by the Bloomberg Foundation, the Philadelphia beverage tax was evaluated one year after its implementation and a decline in the sales volume of taxed beverages found (Christina Roberto et al., JAMA, 2019). Sweetened drink sales dropped by 38% even when factoring in the rise in surrounding area purchasing, providing strong evidence to sustain support among city council members regarding the continued policy.  

  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination in Philadelphia. As one of the world’s leading authorities on PAH carcinogenesis, Dr. Penning is working with the Eastwick Lower Darby Creek Area Community Advisory Group to communicate the risk of PAH contamination of residential yards and the resultant EPA response.