Advertising Campaign Highlights the Critical Need for Comprehensive Health Care Reform Now

Ads Illustrate Why Cancer Patients Need "Action Now Not Later"

WASHINGTON  May 5, 2009 The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) today launched an advertising campaign urging Congress to enact health care system reform this year. The ads are intended to send the message that the current “sick care” system leaves millions of Americans without access to lifesaving cancer screenings and treatment, and that the cost of waiting to take action, measured both in dollars spent and lives lost, is too high.

The ads emphasize the importance of getting lifesaving cancer prevention and early detection screenings, which can cost in the hundreds of dollars, instead of waiting for symptoms of cancer to occur, which can result in a life-threatening late-stage diagnosis that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat.

“Congress must transform our current ‘sick care’ system into one that focuses on prevention and ensures access to the full continuum of quality, affordable care necessary for cancer and other life-threatening diseases,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., CEO, ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society.

The first print ad, which debuts in Capitol Hill publications today, depicts a concerned mother holding her son alongside text that reads, “Now means spending $700 to keep his mother healthy. Later means spending $200,000 trying to keep her alive.” The ad further states that “60 percent of cancer deaths could be prevented. Health care reform must include access to prevention and early detection. For all Americans.”

The ad closes with “Action. Now Not Later.”

ACS CAN is representing the voices of the 11 million cancer survivors across the country to press for comprehensive health care reform this year that elevates the importance of prevention, expands access to quality care to all Americans and emphasizes patients’ quality of life. An April poll conducted for ACS CAN found that half of Americans doubt or don’t know if they could afford the treatment and care needed if they were suddenly diagnosed with cancer.

“Cancer patients know too well the problems in our health care system because of how frequently they touch it, so if we can fix the system for them, we will also fix it for almost anyone else who seeks care,” said. Daniel E. Smith, president of ACS CAN.

The ad campaign, which will extend at least through the summer in print, online, and with grassroots activities nationwide, are part of an ongoing ACS CAN campaign to enact comprehensive health care reform this year. The campaign will follow with other ads and activities that highlight the personal and financial costs of waiting to fix a badly broken health care system.

The ad unveiled today references the cost comparison for colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy screening, which can detect colon cancer in its early stages and involve the removal of pre-cancerous polyps, costs approximately $700, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. However, treatment for advanced stage colorectal cancer could cost $200,000.

More information about ACS CAN’s efforts in support of health care reform can be found online at

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit

Steven Weiss
Phone: (202) 661-5711

Alissa Havens
Phone: (202) 661-5772


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