History of the North Dakota Cancer Coalition
In June 1989, the North Dakota Cancer Coalition (NDCC) was formed to assist the North Dakota Department of Health in preparing a state cancer plan. As part of this early effort, committees were established to focus on American Indians as a special population, tobacco use, cancer screening and quality of cancer care. The committees remained active through 1993, with the American Indian subcommittee active until 1995.
During this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided an opportunity to apply for National Breast and Cervical Cancer Program funding, resulting in development of the Women's Way program. Since its inception in 1997, Women's Way has served nearly 1,200 women and diagnosed more than 200 breast cancers and more than 270 cervical cancers and abnormalities requiring follow-up by a health-care professional.
While implementation of the Women's Way program continued to be a success for breast and cervical cancer screening, partnerships to address comprehensive cancer control continued. At the national level, development of comprehensive cancer control plans to guide coordination and integration of cancer control programs were encouraged.
CDC and its national partners sponsored a series of leadership institutes for key stakeholders in cancer control from every state. Participants were invited to participate in "how to" conferences designed to help foster the creation of a comprehensive cancer control program in each state. This led to the revitalization of the NDCC and began discussions with the governor's office.
Governor John Hoeven called on the North Dakota Department of Health and the University of North Dakota to partner in development of a program with an overarching comprehensive approach to good health and wellness for citizens known as Healthy North Dakota (HND). Cancer prevention was a component of the HND program.
In 2003, North Dakota received funding from CDC to implement a comprehensive cancer prevention and control program (CCCP). The CCCP provided the coalition with the administrative support needed to begin development of North Dakota's Cancer Control Plan, which was launched in the summer of 2006.
The North Dakota Cancer Control Plan has engaged discussion among key stakeholders that has resulted in implementation of objectives and strategies surrounding key issues such as high-quality care options for all North Dakotans, improved patient knowledge about cancer prevention and control, improved health care and patient communications, among many others.
The membership of the North Dakota Cancer Coalition continues to grow. The Women's Way program is still a vital partner in cancer prevention and control efforts in the state. Healthy North Dakota has since expanded its efforts to partner with the coalition in addressing not only cancer prevention but the entire cancer continuum.