What Is Maryland’s Plan to Curb Cancer?

IMG_0764We've heard much about the national Cancer Moonshot led by Vice President Joe Biden aimed at galvanizing resources across the nation to speed the rate of cancer discoveries. The Kimmel Cancer Center’s own deputy director, Elizabeth Jaffee, M.D., is co-chair of the national Cancer Moonshot’s Blue Ribbon Panel that has provided recommendations for the initiative. But on the local level, Maryland hospitals, health experts and community organizers have a long history of working together to help curb cancer.

Every five years, the Maryland Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan defines goals and strategies to help Marylanders reduce cancer risk and improve early detection, treatment and survivorship. The cancer plan is coordinated through Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The plan receives input from health professionals, individuals and community leaders throughout the state, and Johns Hopkins experts participate in work groups to update and implement it. Johns Hopkins experts also create reports about implementation of the plan in Maryland and at Johns Hopkins, and host statewide meetings about the plan.

“The current plan includes integration of goals and strategies across many types of cancer,” says Elizabeth Platz, Sc.D., M.P.H., the Kimmel Cancer Center’s co-leader of cancer prevention and control and a professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Platz leads the Maryland Cancer Collaborative, a volunteer group of individuals and organizations charged with prioritizing its strategies and implementing Maryland’s cancer plan. “Most Maryland residents may not know that such a plan exists,” she says. “But work is being done by many of the plan’s collaborators and other stakeholders every day to complete its goals and objectives.”

Maryland’s cancer plan aims to tackle three main areas over the next five years: cancer prevention, reducing the high burden of cancer in Marylanders, and improving cancer survivorship, palliative care and hospice care.

Platz says the plan includes strategies to improve HPV vaccination rates among Maryland adolescents, further enhance tobacco control, promote education regarding familial risk of cancer, and develop systems to track and monitor hospice use.

Among the results from the past five years of implementing Maryland’s previous cancer plan are comprehensive materials for cancer survivors about support groups and resources, as well as surveys of Maryland colleges and universities on tobacco policies and smoking cessation services.

“This is an opportunity for organizations and individuals to come together and work efficiently on a common goal,” says Platz. “With the cancer plan, we're better organized and able to help Marylanders.”

Read about Maryland’s cancer plan.

Outcomes from previous Maryland cancer plans.

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Norma Kanarek September 16, 2016 at 8:33 am

The state's progress in cancer prevention and control is remarkable. According to 1985 statistics Maryland was first among the states (second if DC is included) in cancer mortality and today is 31st. Importantly, mortality differences between white and black Marylanders have shrunk. With an excellent state-wide registry, an active Cancer Council, strong community, and executive and legislative branch support, and an updated, evidence- and broad-based Cancer Plan, Maryland has focused its resources where they count.

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