Global Cancer Prevention and Tobacco Control

In countries where the cancer burden is steadily increasing, we work to enhance cancer awareness and strengthen policies that support healthy living, with a focus on tobacco control and nutrition.

Awareness and Education

We support civil society organizations, hospitals, and governments in their efforts to improve cancer literacy and awareness through increased access to high quality information. Our information sharing efforts highlight, in particular, our cervical cancer prevention, ensuring women, girls, and their families have the appropriate education to make informed decisions around cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.

In many lower-income countries, there is little public awareness and education around cancer, and it is surrounded by myths and stigma that stop people from seeking care and receiving community support. The disease and its risk factors remain unknown to many, posing a real challenge for prevention and early detection. That’s why information and knowledge are key pillars of effective prevention and health promotion and can play an important role in encouraging individuals to make healthier choices, demand and access screening services, recognize cancer symptoms and seek care in time.

Working towards informed cancer patients, conscious and healthy communities

For individuals facing a cancer diagnosis, information about the disease and its treatment can help reduce fears and anxieties. For communities, increasing awareness about cancer and its relationship with lifestyle factors can help people make healthier choices and better understand the disease and its symptoms. In many parts of the world, however, cancer patients and communities do not have access to quality information about cancer, its risk factors and its treatments. What is being communicated is often on a small scale, re-uses information from other countries, or is not always consistent with current evidence.

We offer an extensive library of evidence-based informational and educational materials in English and Spanish for the general public. We strive to empower our global partners to provide similar quality cancer awareness and education in their own countries. However, it is important to recognize that domestic materials are not culturally appropriate or easily adaptable for global partners. We are working with communications and behavioral experts and our priority country partners to adapt ACS materials to their local context. In each country, we work closely with key stakeholders in Ministries of Health, hospitals, civil society and universities, and use a consistent process to understand the local cancer context before building a critical base of cancer informational materials. Under this program, we are supporting Population Services Kenya (PSKenya) to design and conduct a study to better understand what Kenyans know, believe and do about cancer. The results of this study will directly inform new information and education products for the local cancer control community.

Global cervical cancer prevention

Our global cervical cancer prevention program supports awareness and education around screening and vaccination. It promotes interventions that empower women, girls, and their communities to make informed decisions about how they access available preventive services.

Under these programs, we are supporting the Instituto Oncoguia in Brazil, in its efforts to increase women's awareness and use of cervical cancer screening in one of the country's states where cervical cancer incidence rates are among the highest. Through this collaboration, the Instituto Oncoguia strives to better understand how women seek and utilize cervical cancer screening, as well as potential barriers to access. They aim to use their findings to design and implement an educational campaign on the importance of screening and the most effective way to access available services.

Tobacco Control and Nutrition Advocacy and Policy

Our team works to increase involvement of national cancer organizations in tobacco control and nutrition advocacy and policy. We also work to encourage corporate partners to adopt innovative models of wellness programs that benefit their employees and families, both in the workplace and in their communities. 

People can reduce their risks for many cancers and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by making healthy living choices such as avoiding tobacco, eating well and being active. In many circumstances, however, healthy choices are not fully under individuals’ control and are greatly enhanced by policy change, which has greater potential of impacting the broader population. Our programs focus on effective health promotion and policy interventions that build on the American Cancer Society's historic contribution in tobacco control and other key areas of prevention.

Despite encouraging progress in high-income countries where tobacco policies are being adopted and implemented, the consumption of tobacco products in many parts of the world continues to increase. The tobacco industry has turned its focus to new markets in lower-income economies, where governments and civil societies have not yet fully mobilized to protect the health of their citizens from tobacco use.

Changes in food consumption patterns and reduced physical activity also threaten the health of many emerging economies by leading to the excess weight associated with an increased risk for several cancers.

Engaging corporate leaders in wellness

Recognizing the importance of employers in promoting healthy living, we have for many years engaged corporate leaders interested in helping their employees stay well by increasing their health awareness and avoiding exposure to risk factors for cancer and other diseases.

We are now working to better understand corporate views, attitudes and expectations in relation to health, wellness and cancer prevention, both inside and outside the walls of the workplace. Our aim is to be more innovative in our approach to corporate health and wellness programs globally. We are a partner of the Global Smokefree Worksite Challenge, which strives to guide companies interested in adopting policies to protect their workforce from secondhand smoke and help those who use tobacco quit.

Advocacy

Global tobacco control, healthy eating, and active living efforts focus on building the capacity of cancer organizations in partner countries to implement effective and proven cancer control measures. Our programs support partner organizations actively engaged in the development, adoption, and implementation of healthy living policies such as the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention Alliance on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and regulations on food labeling, as well as marketing, advertisement and taxation of unhealthy products. 

We are currently supporting ACT+ Brazil, a non-governmental organization dedicated to tobacco control and the prevention of NCDs, to foster a public debate around food policy issues and to monitor and promote relevant food regulation opportunities in Brazil.

Previously, we collaborated on a 5-year project called the African Tobacco Control Consortium (ATCC). The ATCC promoted evidence-based tobacco control and laid the groundwork for ongoing comprehensive policy work in sub-Saharan Africa aimed at stopping the emerging epidemic. The ATCC was a coalition coordinated by the American Cancer Society in partnership with the Africa Tobacco Control Alliance, Framework Convention Alliance, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. The ATCC ended in 2014 and was funded primarily through an $8 million grant awarded to the Society by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Global Tobacco Control Resources

The Tobacco Atlas: The most comprehensive, informative, and accessible resource on the pressing issues in the evolving tobacco epidemic. The fifth edition of the book and companion website, produced by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation and released March 2015, detail tobacco’s role in non-communicable diseases, gender inequality, environmental devastation, and the rapidly growing use of e-cigarettes and water pipes.

Global Bridges: A worldwide science-based initiative created with the aim of uniting health care providers in their efforts to treat tobacco dependence while advocating for effective tobacco control policies. This collaborative partnership between the Mayo Clinic and the Society brings together health care providers with complementary expertise to build awareness about the harms of tobacco use, enhance access to proven treatment methods, adapt to regional needs, and increase the pace of skill development throughout each of the World Health Organization’s six regions.