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The Role of Community-based Interventions in the Pursuit to End Cancer Care Disparities

Supplements and Featured PublicationsStriving Towards Cancer Health Equity Through Community Outreach: Highlights From a Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute Symposium

Cancer is a leading threat to medically underserved individuals, particularly racial and sexual minorities. In Cleveland, Ohio, late-stage cancer diagnosis is an urgent public health crisis. Additionally, late-stage diagnosis and disproportionate cancer mortality particularly affects racial and sexual minority communities throughout northeast Ohio. Lung and breast cancers are the most common forms of cancer; however, rates of prostate and colorectal cancer are also high.1,2 Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in Cleveland.3 In the state of Ohio, across all types of cancers, Black men and women have higher cancer mortality rates as compared with White men and women.4 To improve the fight against cancer and save lives, innovative solutions are needed.

The Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute’s Community Outreach Program serves thousands of patients every year with preventative breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung screenings and navigates medically underserved patients through barriers to care, screening activities, and, if necessary, treatment. Still, there are many more individuals in medically underserved communities who need cancer screenings and education.

On October 20, 2022, the Cleveland Clinic Foundation hosted a full-day event, entitled, “Showcasing Solutions: Striving Towards Cancer Health Equity Through Community Outreach.” The event was attended by stakeholders from the community—including politicians, members of businesses and corporations, health care workers, and representatives of faith-based and other non-profit organizations—to spark innovative networking and collaborations among key stakeholders and the Cleveland Clinic. The symposium aimed to educate stakeholders on cancer disparities, incidence rates, and outcomes; share existing best practices; and facilitate dialogue through roundtables to design solutions that involve multiple stakeholders. The keynote address was delivered by Harold P. Freeman, MD, whose navigation model many leaders and advocates in the field have adopted in their outreach efforts.

This publication summarizes key areas of discussion; it highlights areas to refocus community partnerships on the impact of cancer and motivate changes that affect the health care continuum.


1. DataOhio. Cancer identified incidence data (1996-present). November 13, 2020. Accessed May 5, 2023. https://data.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/data/view/cancer-identified-incidence-data-_1996-present

2. Ohio Department of Health. Cancer incidence data (1996-2020). Updated January 25, 2023. Accessed May 5, 2023. https://publicapps.odh.ohio.gov/EDW/DataBrowser/Browse/StateLayoutLockdownCancers

3. Cleveland Department of Public Health. City of Cleveland breast cancer 2008-2017 profile. Updated July 2019. Accessed May 5, 2023. https://clevelandhealth.org/assets/documents/health/health_statistics/Breast_Cancer_Report_2008_2017.pdf

4. Ohio Department of Health. Cancer in Ohio 2020. Accessed May 5, 2023. https://odh.ohio.gov/wps/wcm/connect/gov/2c706d1e-1f33-4f24-96f9-f4e5bd231680/Cancer+in+Ohio+2020_Optimized.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CONVERT_TO=url&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_M1HGGIK0N0JO00QO9DDDDM3000-2c706d1e-1f33-4f24-96f9-f4e5bd231680-nz.k8vZ

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