Change at the American Cancer Society?


After just over a year on the job, the American Cancer Society’s new president has started to talk publicly about ongoing transformation at the ACS.

Many in the prostate cancer community have long felt that the ACS has seemed to have limited interest in helping prostate cancer patients. At times it has seemed — at least to some — that the ACS’s primary interest (as regards prostate cancer) was in avoiding the unnecessary diagnosis of indolent prostate cancers by (apparently) supporting the position of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on the absence of benefit associated with regular, mass, population-based screening through the use of the PSA test. But there are potential signs of change on the horizon.

In his first meeting with the media since his appointment just over a year ago, Gary Reedy, the new CEO of the ACS talked about his three major priorities for a revitalized American Cancer Society:

  • Mission
  • Relevance
  • Revenue

A full report on Reedy’s comments is available on the MedPage Today web site. However, it is clear from his statements that he believes that the ACS must become much more “outward-facing” and engaged with the cancer patient community and that it needs to double its annual research budget (to $240 million a year) to be able to fund more research.

Reedy said nothing specific about any particular type of cancer in the statements above-mentioned. One wouldn’t expect him to do that. However, if the ACS is really going to become more engaged with the patient community and wants to be able to raise more money to support research that might benefit the prostate cancer community in particular, then there are millions of prostate cancer patients out there in America that are going to be interested in hearing what that will mean from their perspective.

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink does not expect any dramatic change in the ACS’s on prostate cancer screening. What the ACS actually says is that PSA testing is something that should occur only after a patient has had a thorough discussion of the risks and benefits of PSA testing with his doctor, and this is a position that The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink can support — but we believe the ACS could be extremely influential in helping to provide and publicize unbiased information about those risks and benefits, and what that conversation between a patient and his doctor should entail.

One Response

  1. I suggest little will change in ACS’s attitude towards prostate cancer until there is a new Chief Medical Officer.

    When a highly educated and reportedly intelligent African-American medical doctor like Otis Brawley refuses to know his own PSA, it suggests there is more to ACS policy regarding prostate cancer than just concern for over-treatment.

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