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Community Outreach and Engagement Research, Programs and Projects

We are continually engaged in research and programs to help expand our knowledge of cancer disparities in our community and access to lifesaving screenings and care.

"Along my prostate cancer recovery journey, I gained many great friends at the Abramson Cancer Center. They have connected with me and Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church to educate the community about disparities associated with cancers. Together, Abramson and Enon are passionately on a mission to save lives and heal families." - Reverend Blane J. Newberry, Prostate Cancer Survivor

ACC Community Advisory Board-driven Project

Each year, the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) invests resources in a project selected and driven by our Community Advisory Board (CAB) that aims to reduce cancer disparities in our catchment area. This year, building on an existing Department of Defense funded study, Empowering Men about Prostate Cancer Together (EMPaCT), CAB member Charnita Ziegler Johnson, PhD, will lead the CAB in conducting a peer-to-peer educational intervention that aims to increase prostate cancer knowledge, provide support to assess risks and benefits of screening and will measure intent to screen for prostate cancer in black men who are residents of Philadelphia communities that have high prostate cancer incidence and mortality.

Community Partnerships

A critical strategy for reducing the burden of cancer in communities is the ACC's extensive network of partnerships with community organizations. These partnerships include faith-based organizations such as churches, synagogues and mosques and health centers and community clinics that care for the diverse residents of the ACC catchment area. In addition, our partners include other regional cancer centers and community organizations.

These partnerships allow the ACC to provide cancer education and access to cancer screenings, treatment and research. Through these partnerships, we build relationships that create opportunities for alliances and collaborations between researchers and our communities to conduct community-engaged research that increases access to cancer prevention and screenings and test interventions to reduce cancer risk, reduce mortality, increase survival and improve quality of life.

ACC has developed several screening programs for communities that are underserved and disproportionately suffer an increased burden of cancer.

  • COE member standing inside a giant inflatable colon ACC's Colorectal Cancer Screening Navigation Program was established in 2012. The program's nurse navigator, Diann Boyd, BSN, RN, OCN, provides tailored, one-on-one service and support to patients who need colonoscopy screening. This may include, free of charge:

    • Appointment scheduling assistance
    • Free prep supplies
    • Reminder phone calls
    • Transportation coordination or assistance

    Contact the GI Outreach Navigator online or call 215-614-1863.

  • ACC COE Team The Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Navigation Program was established in 2014. This program provides free mammograms and pap smears to underserved women in Philadelphia. Emily Verderame, MPH, is the breast and cervical cancer screening navigator. In her role, she works with women to determine if they are eligible for screening, to schedule screenings and to help women keep their screening and diagnostic appointments.

    Learn more about this program or call 215-454-3217.

  • Lung Cancer Screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT) is recommended for adults aged 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. If you qualify and need lung cancer screening with a low dose CT scan, you can request an appointment online or call 800-789-7366 (PENN).

  • Dr. Leone with patientThe Penn Smoking Treatment Program (Penn Stop) is a state-of-the-art clinical program designed to help smokers quit smoking by understanding the influence that nicotine exerts on the brain and finding stress-free ways to gain control of the problem. Smokers meet with a specially trained doctor and counselor and develop a personalized plan for ongoing care. Learn more about Penn Stop or call 1-800-789-7366 (PENN).

Research Relevant to the Catchment Area

ACC has over 300 members focused on conducting research to reduce the cancer burden in our catchment area. Below are only a few of the examples of research focused on the needs of the catchment area along with the parent research program.

  • Clinical trials for treatment of nicotine addiction (TEC)
  • Evaluation of healthy supermarket food environments to promote healthy shopping (Cancer Control)
  • Biobehavioral studies of smoking cessation advertising messages (TEC)
  • Quantitative assessment of environmental toxic exposures and links to cancer, addressing decades of industrial toxic exposures along the I-95 corridor/Delaware River (TEC)
  • Pragmatic trials of EHR "nudges" for to initiate physician ordering of breast and colon cancer screening and to refer patients to smoking cessation clinics (Cancer Control, TEC)
  • Implementation studies of HPV vaccination in pediatric primary care (Cancer Control)
  • Clinical trials of gene therapy for patients with advanced mesothelioma related to high asbestos exposures in our catchment area (Cancer Therapeutics)
  • Population-based, multi-institutional study of genetic testing for the three founder mutations in BRCA1/2 found in Ashkenazi Jewish families (Breast Cancer; Basser Center for
  • BRCA Team Science Award)
  • Study of "financial toxicity" among patients with multiple myeloma (Hematologic Malignancies; CCSG COE pilot grant)

Access to and Engagement with Cancer Clinical Trials

The dramatic progress that has been made in treating cancer over the past three decades have predominantly come from scientific research, including the testing of new medications and procedures through cancer clinical trials. Therefore, increasing enrollment of patients and the diversity of the patients who participate in cancer clinical trials is a high priority for us.

Dr. Carmen Guerra has been designing programs that break down barriers for diverse patients to access cancer clinical trials for the past decade. Guided by important lessons gained from the ENACCT quality improvement training grant awarded to Dr. Guerra and the ACC in 2013, ACC leadership and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion have strategically implemented several initiatives to increase access to cancer clinical trials:

  • Dissemination of the NCI cancer clinical trials educational program and materials throughout ACC's faith-based partnership network in the catchment area
  • Continual evaluation of the ACC's clinical trial portfolio is to ensure that it meets the needs of the catchment area. New policies have been introduced regarding the closure of non-accruing trials
  • New marketing strategies for cancer clinical trials to include culturally tailored materials
  • Increased access to translation services in over 150+ languages remotely through video on screen MARTII and with in-person translators (Spanish and Mandarin are the most commonly requested languages)
  • In collaboration with the IRB, promoting increased awareness and use of Short Forms in the consent process for non-English speakers among research teams
  • Addressing the lodging and transportation needs of our clinical trial participants in partnership with the American Cancer Society and other organizations
  • The provision of Cancer Clinical Trials Navigation services for diverse patients diagnosed with cancer in the community
  • The establishment of a Cancer Clinical Trials Ambassador Program that provides peer-to-peer education focused on cancer clinical trials
  • The continual assessment and addressing of financial barriers to participation in cancer clinical trials