The fight is not new, and we are not new to the fight.

ACS Health Equity Glossary

Ableism: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people

Ally: Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice. Allies understand that it is in their own interest to end all forms of oppression, even those from which they may benefit in concrete ways.

Access to Care: timely use of personal health services to achieve the best health outcomes. It includes: 1) Gaining entry into the healthcare system (usually through insurance coverage) 2) Accessing a location where needed health care services are provided (geographic availability, transportation, etc.) and 3) Finding a health care provider whom the patient trusts and can communicate with.

Cancer Control: a public health approach aimed at reducing the burden of cancer in a population. Planning integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective interventions throughout the cancer continuum is the most effective way of tackling the cancer problem and reduce the suffering caused to patients and their families.

Classism: unfair treatment of people because of their social or economic class. 

Diversity: Describes the many qualities and characteristics that make us alike or different and also help us identify as members of communities or groups.

Early detection: focuses on screening and detecting disease as early as possible so a patient has the best chance for successful treatment. 

Early diagnosis: improves cancer outcomes by providing care at the earliest possible stage and is therefore an important public health strategy in all settings.

Health Disparities: Refers to differences in health outcomes between populations and are the result of health inequities. Changes in health disparities help us measure whether there is progress toward health equity.

Health Equity: Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care. 

Health Equity (through the cancer lens): It means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or ZIP code.

Health Equity Research: Accelerating new discovery and implementation through data science, population science and extramural discovery science to combat health injustices.

Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act: works to increase access and remove barriers to participation in federally-sponsored cancer clinical trials among communities that are traditionally underrepresented. The bill is named after a Black woman who died from cervical cancer and whose cells, taken without her knowledge or consent during her treatment, have been used to develop some of modern medicine’s most important breakthroughs, including the development of the polio vaccine and treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease. 

Inclusion: Refers to our behaviors and interactions with one another. It is a state of being valued, respected and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. Inclusion is a set of behaviors (culture) that encourages people to feel valued for their unique qualities and experience a sense of belonging.

Race: A socially constructed way of grouping people, based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. This social construct was created and used to justify social and economic oppression of people of color by whites.

Racial Discrimination: Unfair treatment because of an individual’s actual or perceived racial or ethnic background.

Rural: A general descriptor to describe a geographic area with lower population density. 

Under-Resourced Communities: People who face challenges related to lack of resources, including leadership, physical assets, money, power, political will, institutions, community cohesion, and services.

How To Get Involved

The bottom line is that with your partnership, the American Cancer Society can save even more lives every day. There are an infinite number of ways to get involved and advance equity in cancer, including:

Join the League of Heroes

We are calling on a League of Heroes to join us in this fight for health equity.


Become a Corporate Partner

We welcome courageous companies to help us battle health injustices.


Become an Impact Maker

Our most dedicated C-suite and executive leaders can use their influence to help solve health inequities.


Attend an Event

Partnership events will help the American Cancer Society shine a light on cancer disparities.



Every Hero has an origin story. What’s yours?



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