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Evolution of community outreach and engagement at National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers, an evolving journey.

Cancer mortality rates have declined during the last 28 years, but that process is not equitably shared. Disparities in cancer outcomes by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and gender identity, and geographic location persist across the cancer care continuum. Consequently, community outreach and engagement (COE) efforts within National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center (NCI-DCC) catchment areas have intensified during the last 10 years as has the emphasis on COE and catchment areas in NCI's Cancer Center Support Grant applications. This review article attempts to provide a historic perspective of COE within NCI-DCCs. Improving COE has long been an important initiative for the NCI, but it was not until 2012 and 2016 that NCI-DCCs were required to define their catchment areas rigorously and to provide specific descriptions of COE interventions, respectively. NCI-DCCs had previously lacked adequate focus on the inclusion of historically marginalized patients in cancer innovation efforts. Integrating COE efforts throughout the research and operational aspects of the cancer centers, at both the patient and community levels, will expand the footprint of COE efforts within NCI-DCCs. Achieving this change requires sustained commitment by the centers to adjust their activities and improve access and outcomes for historically marginalized communities.

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