Arizona Lawmakers Come Together to Fight Cancer

Newly Formed Bipartisan ‘Cancer Action Caucus’ to Focus on Issues Related to Cancer in the State

May 15, 2024

Members of the newly formed Arizona Cancer Action Caucus held their inaugural meeting Wednesday afternoon at the state capitol to discuss ways to combat the disease in the state. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) helped form the caucus, which consists of a bipartisan group of seven state lawmakers.  . All members have been touched by cancer, including some who are survivors. 

During Wednesday’s meeting, legislators learned about the effect cancer is having on Arizonans. According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in Arizona. More than 42,000 Arizona residents will be diagnosed with the disease in 2024. Of those diagnoses, more than 13,000 people are expected to die, with breast and lung cancers being the leading causes of cancer death in the state. 

This marks the first time a legislative caucus dedicated to fighting cancer has been formed in Arizona. The group includes bipartisan membership and is chaired by Rep. Steve Montenegro, whose mother passed away from cancer.

“Creating this group is a crucial first step in trying to reduce the cancer burden for Arizonans,” said Montenegro. “Each member has been affected by cancer in one way or another and knows this disease doesn’t care about your race, gender, or which political party you belong to. It’s important we act now to ensure Arizonans have access to care and early detection, when they need it the most.” 

The caucus plans to meet frequently to discuss cancer’s effect on the state’s rural, Hispanic/Latino and Native American populations, as well as expanding access to care and early detection through the state’s Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. 

“As more Arizonans continue to be diagnosed with cancer, it’s important we recognize the positive impact programs like AHCCCS are having on the fight,” said Brian Hummell, ACS CAN Arizona Government Relations Director, and cancer survivor. “The state will soon be finalizing its five-year cancer plan with objectives intended to lower the state’s cancer burden. The power of this bipartisan group can help move policies to achieve these lofty goals.”

Rep. Lela Alston is a member of the caucus as well. She recently discovered she is cancer-free after battling lung cancer for a decade. 

“It is an honor to join my colleagues and ACS CAN in the creation of this highly important caucus to focus on a disease that has taken the lives of far too many Arizonans,” said Alston. “As a proud survivor, I want to assure my fellow Arizonans who hear the words ‘you have cancer’ will maintain hope and have access to lifesaving treatments and detection.”  

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