OPINION – Michigan must do more to fight cancer


Michigan is falling short when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer according to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up? A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.

“This report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But we have the power to make a difference for Michiganders immediately by implementing proven cancer-fighting policies,” said Andrew Schepers, Michigan government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). This year alone in Michigan, 56,590 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 29.8 percent of cancer deaths in Michigan are attributed to smoking. We owe it to them and everyone at risk of developing the disease, to do what we know works to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment.

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in nine specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer, including increased access to care through Medicaid, funding for cancer screening programs, smoke-free laws, cigarette tax levels, funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs, cessation coverage under Medicaid and restricting indoor tanning devices for minors. The report also looks at whether a state provides a balanced approach to pain medication and if it has passed policies proven to increase patient quality of life.

A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark and red shows where states are falling short.

Michigan is making progress on tobacco control but needs to work on making prevention a larger priority by increasing funding for prevention and cessation. At this point, the state-run tobacco quitline does not have enough funding to operate for a full year. We need to offer better support to those Michiganders who want to quit tobacco.

“As advocates, we have the opportunity to work with our Michigan legislators on implementing policies and programs that prevent and treat cancer,” said Philip Moilanen, state lead ambassador, ACS CAN. “Together, we can build stronger, healthier communities and ensure Michiganders have access to measures that prevent disease before it occurs, ultimately saving more lives from cancer.”

To view the complete report and details on Michigan’s grades, visit www.acscan.org.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.  ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.