NCCN Voices a Call to Action Against Health Care Inequity on World Cancer Day


The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is one of many organizations that is taking a stand against inequity in health care by aligning themselves with the new 3-year campaign, entitled “Close the Care Gap,” led by the Union for International Cancer Control.

Robert W. Carlson, MD

Robert W. Carlson, MD

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is one of many organizations that is taking a stand against inequity in health care by aligning themselves with the new 3-year campaign, entitled “Close the Care Gap,” led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), according to a news release that was published on World Cancer Day.1

According to the UICC, the 5-year survival rate for cervical cancer is 71% for White women in the United States, but only 58% for Black women. Moreover, greater than 90% of cervical cancer mortality occurs in low- and middle-income countries.

Additionally, childhood cancer survival rates exceed more than 80% in high-income countries but can be as low as 20% in low-income countries. Furthermore, differences in cancer-related outcomes are evident among rural and nonrural patients, even in high-income countries like United States.

“Who you are or where you live should not determine how long you live,” Robert W. Carlson, MD, chief executive officer of the NCCN, said. “Yet, we know disparities in cancer care and outcomes exist between the United States and other countries, and within the [United States] itself between different races/ethnicities, socioeconomic groups, sexual orientations, gender identities, regions, and more. Today and every day we must uncover and address the significant barriers that prevent too many people from receiving high-quality cancer care.”

In addition to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, which serve as a resource on optimized treatment standards, the NCCN is a member of the following initiatives that are working to bridge the gap in cancer care:

  • Hosting a plenary session on Equity of Cancer Care at the upcoming virtual NCCN 2022 Annual Conference, which will be held between March 31 and April 2. Key topics will include best practices for providing equitable cancer care to sexual, gender, and racial minority patients and the most recent policy initiatives that are centered on improving health equity. Learn more and register at
  • Assembling the Elevating Cancer Equity Working Group in January of 2021, piloting the Health Equity Report Card (HERC), and voicing support for policies to reduce racial disparities in cancer care within the United States.
  • Sharing the most recent peer-reviewed research and commentary on cancer care inequities in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network at
  • Providing funding and leadership for new research to evaluate current disparities and ways of overcoming them through the NCCN Oncology Research Program,
  • Hosting yearly NCCN Patient Advocacy Summits, with the 2022 summit focused on best practices and policies for addressing the health needs of LGBT+ patients with cancer and survivors.
  • Developing global Harmonizations, Adaptations, and Translations of the NCCN guidelines that are catered to regional needs and resource levels in conjunction with in-country thought leaders, made available at
  • Providing resources and translations for patients and caregivers to start a dialogue with their doctors about how to get the best individualized care, made available at

“As individuals, as communities, we can and must come together and break down barriers,” Dr Cary Adams, chief executive officer of UICC, said. “We have achieved a lot in the last decade in cancer care and control around the world but not addressing inequities in society is slowing our progress. Closing the care gap is about fairness, dignity, and fundamental rights to allow everyone to lead longer lives in better health.”

“ASCO has a long history of working toward equitable cancer care and research, and most recently issued the ASCO’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan: A Legacy of Commitment, A Future of Promise for All Individuals with Cancer, which is designed to infuse equity throughout the society’s activities. We lend our support to World Cancer Day as a unique opportunity to draw international attention on the need to the accelerate progress we have seen in cancer prevention, screening, care, and outcomes and make headway towards true equity for all individuals with cancer,” Julie Gralow, MD, FACP, FASCO, chief medical officer of ASCO, said in a news release.2

“We are also encouraged by President Biden’s announcement to reignite the Cancer Moonshot with a major focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. This heightened attention can propel us to invest even more of our time, energy, and resources in closing the remaining gaps. This World Cancer Day, we must all commit to ensuring that everyone, no matter who they are, where they live, or their socioeconomic status, can benefit fully from advances in cancer science and patient care,” Gralow concluded.

For more from World Cancer Day, visit and be a part of the conversation online with the hashtags #NCCNGlobal, #WorldCancerDay, and #CloseTheCareGap.


  1. NCCN joins the call to ‘close the care gap’ on World Cancer Day. News release. February 4, 2022. Accessed February 4, 2022.
  2. ASCO Statement on World Cancer Day. News release. ASCO. February 3, 2022. Accessed February 4, 2022.
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