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ACCC Aims at Closing the Gap in Cancer Research With Focus on Equity & Access

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000693492.69487.c5
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At the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) national meeting in March, Randall A. Oyer, MD, was named ACCC President 2020-2021. In brief remarks, Oyer announced the President's Theme for his term in office: Community Oncology Can Close the Gap in Cancer Research and a commitment to boosting clinical trials in the community where the majority of cancer care is delivered. Within a few short weeks, however, the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) took precedence: health care systems, hospitals, cancer programs and practices, providers, patients—our communities and our society—focused on actions to flatten the curve of the pandemic's spread.

During the early acute phase of the pandemic, the first priority of ACCC has been to meet the needs of community cancer care providers and the wider oncology community by providing access to curated evidence-based information to support continued quality care delivery to patients with cancer. ACCC brought forward the real-world experience and knowledge of its membership, producing a series of member-driven webcasts, CANCER BUZZ podcasts, and ACCCBuzz blogs that share practical information on how to navigate the uncharted SARS-CoV-2 landscape. ACCC continues to build these resources, which are available at accc-cancer.org/COVID-19.

Mounting a response to the pandemic has led to a global focus on clinical research. ACCC is exploring the impact of COVID-19 on all facets of cancer care, including the administration of—and patient access to—clinical trials. In the wake of COVID-19, a critical step for oncology is amassing data to develop a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on patients with cancer. To this end, ACCC is partnering with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to encourage participation in the ASCO Survey on COVID-19 in Oncology Registry (ASCO Registry). Development of a large data set is vital for researchers who are studying the important questions to which cancer care providers and their patients need answers. The ASCO Registry is collecting information about patterns of symptoms and severity of COVID-19 infection, how COVID-19 influences the delivery of cancer care, and how patients' cancer and COVID-19 outcomes are affected. Details on the ASCO Registry are available at https://www.asco.org/asco-coronavirus-information/coronavirus-registry.

The COVID-19 PHE has made the persistent inequities in our society and our health care system—and the consequences—transparent. Disparities in cancer outcomes remain a critical challenge for oncology. ACCC has education programs underway that seek to improve access to care and outcomes. In June, ACCC launched a new resource, Improving Care Coordination: A Model for Lung Cancer. This interactive online assessment provides a framework for improving care for underserved patients diagnosed with lung cancer. The model is designed for programs and practices of any size or resource level. Find information on how the model was developed and tested in the community and access the assessment tool at accc-cancer.org.

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One of the care coordination model's 12 assessment areas is access to clinical trials. The pressing need for cancer clinical trials to be more inclusive of Black, Brown, Latinx Americans, and other under-represented groups has been highlighted. Oyer's President's Theme encompasses the critical issue of equitable representation in and access to cancer clinical trials—essential steps to closing the gap in cancer research. As part of this initiative, ACCC is publishing a monthly research-focused newsletter, presenting a webcast series, and working collaboratively with other oncology stakeholders to not only increase trial awareness and access in the community, but to also ensure that all individuals benefit equally from the advances achieved through cancer research.

Guided by the President's Theme: Community Oncology Can Close the Gap in Cancer Research, ACCC's newly launched, research-centric newsletter will feature clinical trial opportunities with discussion of benefits to participation, along with expert perspectives on four key areas: geriatric oncology, underserved populations, precision medicine in the community, and innovative cancer care delivery models. Visit accc-cancer.org to access issues of the newsletter, webcasts, and additional resources aimed at closing the gap in cancer research.

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