Baton Rouge, La. (May 11, 2018) – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards was joined by Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary, Louisiana Department of Health, Kristy Duffey, UnitedHealth Group Chief Clinical Officer and board member of United Health Foundation, and many leaders in health care, business, government, and other sectors to announce a statewide collaborative effort to address cancer in Louisiana.

Louisiana has the fourth-worst cancer outcomes in the United States with more than 175 people dying from cancer every week. Data also shows significant racial disparities across populations and regions of the state.

The goals of the initiative, Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana, include improving early detection, improving patient care and treatment, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. Additionally, the initiative places emphasis on the committed action that is needed from statewide partners to better align policies, programs, and practices among all who diagnose and treat cancer.

“From screening, to accessing care and treatment, there are strategic efforts taking shape with partners across the state to improve quality of care, reduce costs, and increase survivorship,” said Governor Edwards. “This effort, led by the Louisiana Department of Health, brings together our state’s leading cancer experts, which is important for patients, their families, and for our entire state. I’m encouraged by this collaborative work to reduce disparities in care across populations and to improve standards of care for our state.”  

United Health Foundation has provided a $500,000 grant to the Louisiana Cancer Research Center to develop a coordinated strategy to improve care, support, and outcomes for the people of Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Health will provide leadership support throughout this initiative.

“United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in developing a statewide cancer strategy. By convening partners with diverse expertise and coordinating the efforts of Louisiana’s many cancer-related resources, there is a great potential to save lives,” said Kristy Duffey of United Health Foundation.

As part of today’s announcement leaders from various sectors met to review comprehensive research on cancer in Louisiana and to take a deeper look at treatment, disparities, and outcomes for breast and colorectal cancer. Other types of cancer will be reviewed at future meetings.

“Today will be the first of several meetings which will allow leaders throughout the state to work to improve payment structures, establish agreed upon quality measures, and expand access to cancer care and clinical trials,” said Dr. Rebekah Gee, Secretary Louisiana Department of Health. “By taking aim at cancer, together we can eventually improve care for all people in Louisiana.”


About the Louisiana Cancer Research Center

The Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) was founded in 2002 under the direction of the Louisiana State Legislature, with a mission is to promote education and conduct research in the diagnosis, detection and treatment of cancer, while pursuing a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. LCRC membership includes more than 200 researchers representing a strong inter- and-intradisciplinary activity across the member institutions.


About the Louisiana Department of Health 


The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging & Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid). To learn visit or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or our blog.


About United Health Foundation

Through collaboration with community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local communities. The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, the United Health Foundation has committed nearly $358 million to programs and communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at