The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded more than $5 million in September 2022 to 11 HRSA-funded community health centers to help underserved populations access cancer screenings and early detection services in partnership with National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers.

The awarded funds support the goals of President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, specifically closing the cancer screening gap, decreasing the impact of preventable cancers, and supporting patients and caregivers. The awarded health centers promote early detection of cancer, connect patients with screenings, and assist underserved communities with accessing cancer care and treatment.

“Tools to fight and prevent cancer should be in reach for everyone, but too often, that’s not the case. With so many people having missed preventive care visits and cancer screenings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we must expand access to life-saving care,” Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, said. “Today’s action takes us a step closer to that goal. With this move, health centers can work to close disparity gaps, delivering critical services to underserved communities in need.”

“Getting life-saving cancer screenings and treatment should not depend on where you live or what you can afford to pay,” Carole Johnson, HRSA administrator, said. “Today’s investment helps to advance our goal of ensuring that individuals from historically underserved communities have the same opportunities to benefit from the tools we have to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer. We welcome the opportunity to partner with NCI-designated cancer centers to expand access to these critical services.”

Early detection can greatly improve cancer care and patient access to timely treatment. Oncology nurses have a responsibility to advocate for access to cancer screenings in all communities, especially special populations.