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A steady decline in cancer death rates in New York City in recent decades is a meaningful sign of progress, but the benefits of that progress have not been shared equally among all New Yorkers. As part of its Global Health Initiative (GHI), the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supported efforts by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) to reach New Yorkers in underserved areas and populations with access to relevant, community-based cancer screenings that enable early diagnosis, timely treatment, and better health outcomes.

Partnering with organizations deeply engaged with particular immigrant communities, the MSK Immigrant Health and Cancer Disparities Service (IHCD) and the Harlem-based MSK Ralph Lauren Center Cancer Screening Initiative have sought to reach New Yorkers with cancer screening and risk-reduction education. The multilingual staff working for these initiatives have conducted sessions in Arabic, Bengali, French, and Spanish, in addition to English.

IHCD’s Mobile Health Unit has offered not only cancer screenings and education, but also blood-pressure screening, glucose and cholesterol testing, help navigating insurance, social service referrals, and much more across all five boroughs. It has facilitated screenings for colorectal, prostate, breast, and cervical cancer, and during the period of SNF’s grant, 13% were urgently referred for follow-up. Partnerships with dozens of local community-based organizations, faith-based entities, and health care facilities expand on the services clients have access to, including food pantries, HIV screening, and mental health services.

That grant, made in 2020 in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, also supported outreach to help members of the public, including cancer patients, get vaccinated, stay healthy, and treat the illness.

Collectively, these efforts, offered at no cost, have sought to lower the logistical, financial, linguistic, and cultural barriers to people accessing the health care they need.