Pfizer funnels $15M into 3-year ACS initiative designed to tackle cancer care disparities

Pfizer is putting down $15 million to launch a new program with the American Cancer Society (ACS) aimed at improving access to cancer screening and clinical trials in medically underrepresented communities nationwide.

Dubbed “Change the Odds: Uniting to Improve Cancer Outcomes,” the three-year initiative will first focus on breast and prostate cancers, the most common cancer types diagnosed among women and men in the U.S., respectively.

ACS will work with on-the-ground partners to spread awareness about no- and low-cost screening and other services in communities that are disproportionately impacted by breast and prostate cancers. The nonprofit will also provide patients with information about recommended screening, treatments, clinical trials, community resources and emotional support. ACS intends to partner with additional organizations to expand the program’s reach to more Americans.

Nearly 311,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the latest ACS research. Black women have a 4% lower incidence rate of breast cancer than white women but are 40% more likely to die from the condition than white women and twice as likely to die if they are younger than the age of 50.  

Meanwhile, about 299,000 men are predicted to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2024, according to the ACS. The incidence of prostate cancer is about 70% higher in Black men than white, and Black men are more than two times as likely to die from the disease than white, Hispanic or Asian American/Pacific Islander men.

Overall, survival after a cancer diagnosis is shorter for Americans of all races who have a lower socioeconomic status and who live in a more rural area than individuals who don’t, research finds.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate—and neither should cancer care,” Pfizer’s chief oncology officer and executive vice president Chris Boshoff, Ph.D., said in a Feb. 5 release. “We’re proud to partner with the American Cancer Society on a broad, community-focused initiative to reach people living with cancer where they are, with urgency, and connect them to resources to receive the care they deserve.”