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From the Field

American Cancer Society Names Dr. Karen Knudsen as Its Next CEO

Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, will be the next chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, starting June 1, 2021. She will take the reins from the retiring Gary Reedy, who has served as both organizations' CEO since 2015.

Dr. Knudsen currently serves as executive vice-president of Oncology Services and enterprise director for Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, one of only 71 National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers recognized for its research and impact on cancer outcomes. She holds leadership roles with other major cancer organizations, including the Association of American Cancer Institutes, where she serves as president. Dr. Knudsen also serves on the board of directors for the American Association of Cancer Research and the board of advisors for the National Cancer Institute. She is active in committees for the American Society for Clinical Oncology, in addition to serving on other academic and for-profit advisory boards.

American Cancer Society Provides Guidance and Resources to Promote Return to Screening

Far too many individuals for whom screening is recommended remain unscreened, and this situation has been exacerbated by the substantial decline in cancer screening resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. New resources from the American Cancer Society provide additional information, guidance, and tools for organizations planning outreach efforts to motivate individuals to undergo routine screening.

Last fall, the American Cancer Society developed a guide summarizing the impact of the pandemic on cancer care and provided guidance on how public health agencies, health care providers, and screening advocates across the nation could promote and deliver cancer screening appropriately, safely, and equitably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Cancer Society has released additional new resources, including the 2021 Messaging Guidebook: Effectively Messaging Cancer Screening During the COVID-19 Pandemic, which includes findings from recent market research to assess the most effective messages for encouraging people across diverse demographic groups to return for routine cancer screening. A companion brief and communication materials are also available to support organizations in their return to screening efforts.

Between 1989 and 2018, the overall breast cancer death rate declined by 41 percent (resulting in an estimated 403,200 breast cancer deaths averted) due in large part to early detection as a result of increasing utilization of screening mammograms. Detection and treatment of precancerous lesions and the early detection of cervical cancer have contributed to dramatic declines in both cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates. Likewise, colorectal cancer incidence declined among adults aged 50 and older in the last 15 years, and mortality rates dropped by 55 percent from 1970 to 2018, with a substantial fraction of these declines due to screening.

Continuing to improve cancer screening rates is critical as there are still major gaps to fill in decreasing the burden of cancer. For example, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women, and colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S., yet nearly one in three men and women for whom screening is recommended are not up to date on screening.