Community Advocates, Cancer Center Leaders at State Capitol

A cadre of community advocates and University of Illinois Cancer Center leaders and staff traveled to the Illinois State Capitol to show support for proposed legislation that aligns with the Cancer Center’s mission to eliminate cancer health inequities and improve cancer outcomes for all.

The Cancer Center supports bills focused on increasing diversity in clinical trials and providing insurance coverage, with no cost-sharing, for clinical genetic testing recommended by a health care professional for an inherited gene mutation in people with a personal or family history of cancer.

Cancer Center Community Advisory Board (CAB) Co-Chair Joanne Glenn, RN, MBA, and CAB member Carmen Navarro Gercone, along with community partners Araceli Lucio and Juanita Arroyo of The Resurrection Project, joined Cancer Center Director Jan Kitajewski, PhD, Associate Director for Administration Ahlam Al-Kodmany, PhD, and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement Yamile Molina, PhD, and staff to meet with lawmakers in Springfield for the legislative session on February 20.

State Capitol Visit

Illinois State Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr., a member of the Cancer Center’s Community Advisory Board, introduced the “Diversity in Clinical Trials” bill in the House. It would require the Illinois Department of Public Health to study which populations are underrepresented in clinical trials, what barriers contribute to that, and how partnerships could help provide outreach to underrepresented groups to increase diversity in research.

The Cancer Center has been a leader in diversifying clinical trials with 79% minority enrollment in its clinical trials. The Cancer Center also has engaged leaders from National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pharmaceutical companies, cancer advocacy organizations and community members in a series of panel discussions focused on structural solutions for diverse clinical trials.

The “Cancer Genetic Testing” bill introduced in the Illinois Senate includes co-sponsors in the Cancer Center’s catchment area of Cook County. The bill also would provide for evidence-based cancer imaging for people with an increased risk of cancer as recommended by National Comprehensive Cancer Network clinical practice guidelines.

The Cancer Center is part of UI Health, which offers cancer genetic services and hereditary cancer risk assessment at its Mile Square Health Center, a federally qualified health center (FQHC), and other clinics. Through the Illinois Cancer Health Equity Research Center (I-CHER), the Cancer Center, with the Resurrection Project and other partners, has leveraged this novel infrastructure at UI Health to test multilevel solutions for improving underserved populations’ access to low or no-cost risk assessment, genetic testing and risk-based care.

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