Since 2004, the Next Generation Choices Foundation has conducted its Less Cancer campaign to bring awareness to increasing incidences of cancer. A nonprofit organization rooted in the Web and social media, and dedicated to cancer education and prevention, Less Cancer educates citizens about behavioral and environmental risks linked to cancer. Less Cancer presents new opportunities to reach individuals and communities.
More than 40 years into the war on cancer, we have spent billions on research and treatment while falling behind on prevention of many cancers. The National Cancer Institute, for example, has spent some $90 billion during that time. Its budget for fiscal year 2012 includes more than $2 billion for research, $1.3 billion for treatment, and only $232 million for cancer prevention and control.
Despite the progress made on research and treatment since 1974, there have been sharp increases in some cancers. Pediatric blood cancers are up by 60 percent, and brain cancers have increased by 40 percent in children 14 and under.
Less Cancer was founded to bring attention to this alarming trend, and to raise awareness about cancer prevention, through the use of digital media and community-supported programming. Although one-third of cancers are genetic, the rest are the result of external forces. Less Cancer’s mission is to make risk reduction and prevention a vital part of the cancer paradigm.
Channel 1: Online
Less Cancer pioneered the use of Web and social media for cancer prevention/education. The campaign reaches more than 100,000 regular followers in over 30 countries. We believe the immediacy of new media is a good fit with the urgency of the topic. We seek to establish a mainstream literacy for cancer prevention that emphasizes the need to stop cancer at the cause:
Developing risk-reduction strategies
Shifting community or corporate practices and products
Building alliances with business and industry
Creating options for healthy choices
Channel 2: Shifting Cultures
In addition to online media, Less Cancer communicates its mission of cancer prevention via direct “offline” engagements with health care systems, community groups, health-affected constituencies, schools, universities and government and non-government organizations. These engagements have included fundraisers, round tables, and panel discussions. We have also participated in or sponsored events on Capitol Hill, the Less Cancer Speaker Series, and the Lesscancer.org Prevention Fund for Education and Research, among other initiatives.
Successful outreach in Channel 2 can drive traffic in Channel 1, resulting in multi-platform engagements of the Less Cancer audience. We then are better able to scale up and out in a very measured and specific way for effectiveness as a sustainable organization—taking intervention to new sites in both channels and expanding the capacity of existing sites to serve more participants.
Less Cancer’s work on health and environment spans a wide range of issues, including specific contaminants, pollution sources, and healthy lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and nutrition. While we work to protect all communities, our approach is particularly relevant to at-risk populations, such as children, low-income communities, and workers. Less Cancer’s ultimate goal is to raise awareness of prevention and reduce incidences of diagnosed cancer in all people.
Less Cancer has addressed social and health issues around prevention, including:
Food deserts and nutritional access
The Less Cancer audience consists of:
The Consuming Public
Health Care Workers and Professionals
Web users and social network followers
Our Activities for 2012-2013
Less Cancer was the driving force behind Cancer Prevention Days in Virginia, New Hampshire, and Michigan, as well as National Cancer Prevention Day, a resolution introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2012 and 2013 by Rep. Steve Israel of New York. Less Cancer Founder Bill Couzens spoke on Capitol Hill for National Cancer Prevention Day February 4, 2013.
Move Charlottesville for Less Cancer event, raising resources for a second LessCancer.org Prevention Fund at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. The event was initiated by Less Cancer volunteer Martha Fruehauf.
The Fall of 2012 Less Cancer Speaker Series featured Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm.
In December of 2012, the LessCancer.org Prevention Fund was created with Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. Funding was generated through a grassroots event, Move Detroit for Less Cancer.
To raise awareness of the importance of physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices, Less Cancer is sponsoring its inaugural Less Cancer Challenge 300 this July. Individuals will team up to move 300 miles over the month of July. Featured is lead cyclist Suzi Tobias, who will ride a bicycle 300 miles from Port Huron to Mackinac, Michigan, during the famous two-day yacht race.Suzi is riding in memory of her friend Aileen O’Brien Graef.
Our first and most important benchmark is our name. Less Cancer signifies a prevention paradigm for addressing cancer. This is a departure from previous treatment-focused approaches that talked about beating, conquering, or curing cancer.
Since its inception, Less Cancer has been instrumental in teaching consumers about local and organic foods. We have been a leader in issues concerning cancer risks, such as obesity.
The organization has been very active in building and understanding and awareness for “risks” for both health and the environment, especially those risks associated with cancer.
We produced the “Less Cancer Minutes” and “Healthy Town” video series. “Healthy Town Detroit” was played twice for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
As Less Cancer enters its 10th year, we are focused on partnering with additional institutions to develop even stronger, more effective collaborative programing.
We work closely with our partners to identify and satisfy their programming needs in a timely and relevant manner. Our strength lies in synergizing programming with a global effort on the World Wide Web and social networks.
Less Cancer has regional offices in Rye, NH, and Detroit, MI. Bill Couzens works from Virginia and Washington, DC. We have active board members in Rye, NH; Kansas City, MO; Washington, DC; Bethesda, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; New York, NY; Denver, CO; Vero Beach, FL; and Phoenix, AZ.