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Headshot of Ronny Bell.
UNC Lineberger’s Ronny Bell, PhD, MS.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recently released its Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2024. First published in 2020, this biennial report raises awareness of the toll that cancer exacts on racial and ethnic minority groups and other medically underserved populations in the United States. UNC Lineberger’s Ronny Bell, PhD, MS, is a member of the steering committee that oversaw the report’s creation.

The report highlights underlying causes of cancer disparities as well as promising trends in reducing these inequities. It also emphasizes the need for continued research and collaborations to ensure that advances against cancer benefit all patients, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status or geographic residential location.

“The AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report serves as a guiding reference for researchers, clinicians and policy makers for understanding how cancer adversely impacts certain populations, but also the most effective strategies to address these disparities,” said Bell, associate director of Cancer Care Access and Excellence at UNC Lineberger and chair of the Division of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “The leadership of UNC Lineberger is committed to addressing cancer disparities among all citizens of North Carolina, and the 2024 AACR report will help us achieve this goal.”

The overall cancer death rate in the U.S. fell by 33% between 1991 and 2020, due in large part to advances in prevention, early detection and treatment. These advances, however, have not benefited everyone equally.

“The findings of this report offer a deeper dive into the ‘whole person’ as it relates to the areas outside of medicine that contribute to health inequities: ZNA (ZIP code and neighborhood of association), institutional and systemic racism, and situational and physical barriers to access, to name a few,” said Robert A. Winn, MD, FAACR, chair of the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2024 Steering Committee and director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center. “As we continue to look at cancer incidences and outcomes and cross check them against these other factors, while having critical conversations that spur meaningful action within our affected communities, our path forward will become clearer.”