Surveillance & Health Equity Science

The Surveillance and Health Equity Science (SHES) Department is an intramural research program of the American Cancer Society (ACS). Our staff includes world-renowned epidemiologists and health scientists, and we're among the most comprehensive cancer surveillance, health services, and disparities research groups worldwide.


Our Goals and Objectives

The goal of the Surveillance & Health Equity Science (SHES) department is to conduct interdisciplinary, impactful research and disseminate information on cancer occurrence, prevention, early detection, treatment, survivorship, and economic burden to inform delivery of cancer care and cancer prevention and control nationally and globally in support of the ACS mission “to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”  

Specific objectives in support of this goal are to:

  • Publish high quality educational publications, including the ACS Cancer Facts & Figures reports.
  • Monitor progress and identify emerging patterns and inequalities across the cancer control continuum—prevention, screening, occurrence, treatment, survivorship, and mortality.
  • Estimate the contribution of individual, social, institutional, and health system determinants of health on cancer disparities.
  • Assess the application and effects of health policies, cancer control programs, and guidelines on: a) access to, and receipt of, cancer care, and b) the economic burden and outcomes of cancer control efforts from prevention through mortality.
  • Create scientific evidence to support and promote ACS and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) campaigns, advocacy efforts, and national roundtables, including their actions to improve access to cancer care and influence federal, state, and local tobacco-control measures. 
  • Advance research in cancer prevention, surveillance, health services, and disparities across the cancer care continuum via scientific publications, conference participation, staff development, and interdisciplinary collaborations with both internal and external partners.

The SHES department is led by Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, and staffed by more than 20 scientists. 

Key Terms

  • Health Equity: The state in which everyone has the potential to attain their full health potential, and no one is at a disadvantage for attaining this potential because of their race/ethnicity, gender, health insurance coverage , disability, place of residence, and other social circumstances, such as lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.
  • Health Care Barriers: Factors that prevent a person from accessing quality health care and services, such as lack of adequate health insurance, location of health centers, and time off from work.
  • Cancer Disparities: Harmful differences between population groups in the number of people who receive standard cancer care as well as harmful differences in the outcomes after receiving care. For instance, without standard cancer care, people are more likely not be diagnosed with cancer until it's at a late stage, and they're more likely to die from the cancer.
  • Cancer-related Outcomes: The results of a cancer diagnosis—how it affects health, quality of life, and length of survival. These outcomes are influenced by a patient’s overall health, access to quality health care, cancer type and stage, response to provided treatments, complications, and follow-up care.

Our teams and work

Epidemiologists and health economists in the SHES department publish nearly 100 peer-reviewed journal articles a year in addition to the ACS Cancer Facts & Figures reports.