Mississippi Leaders Unite to Ignite Action to Change State’s Dire Ranking on Cancer-Fighting Policies Nationwide

Emphasizing the Important Role Preventive Policies Can Play in Reducing the State’s Cancer Burden

November 30, 2020

JACKSON, MS — November 25, 2020 — Mississippi ranks last in the nation when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent and reduce suffering and death from cancer, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) How Do You Measure Up? 2019 Report.

Federal lawmakers, leading business executives and community leaders are uniting to change the narrative, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a significant impact on preventive cancer care including a stark decrease in screenings.

“We owe it to Mississippi families, especially the ones that have been hit by today’s economic environment, to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment,” shared ACS CAN Mississippi Government Relations Director Kimberly Hughes.

Leaders stressed the important role early detection plays in survivorship while bringing attention to the critical support programs like the state-funded Mississippi Breast and Cervical Cancer Program plays in ensuring adequate access to such preventive screenings.

“COVID-19 has revealed real health inequities, partly things we already knew about, but the pandemic has really uncovered a lot of the issues that we have been struggling with that we need to continue to address to look at,” noted Jimmie Wells, an oncology nurse at St. Dominic Jackson Memorial Hospital who has been working on the frontlines of the pandemic.

Mississippi’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program serves more than 4,000 uninsured and underinsured women annually with breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment services, many of which would likely have not had access. Without adequate funding of the NBCCEDP, millions of underserved women could be exposed to cancer diagnoses at later stages, when survival is less likely and costs of treatment are highest.

“I believe we will see the impact of COVID-19 months and years down the road,” added Wells. “This is the perfect time for our policymakers as well as the community to be made aware of the things that have gone on -- and on some levels -- are still going on.”

Other special guests included Angela Ladner, Mississippi Oncology Society; Brad Martin, Comprehensive Cancer Control Program Director at the Mississippi State Department of Health; Senator. Nicole Boyd; Mike Chaney, Mississippi Insurance Department Commissioner, and U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. The event was held virtually and sponsored by Magnolia Health, Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, PhRMA, Keesler Federal Credit Union, the Mississippi Hospital Association, the Mississippi Association of Health Plans, Novartis, Merck, Genentech and Janssen Oncology. 



ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

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