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American Indian/Alaska Native Cancer Policy: Systemic Approaches to Reducing Cancer Disparities


Members of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes have a unique political status in the United States in terms of citizenship, and that political status determines eligibility for certain unique healthcare services. The AI/AN population has a legal right to healthcare services based on treaties, court decisions, acts of Congress, Executive Orders, and other legal bases. Although the AI/AN population has a right to healthcare services, the Indian Health Service (the federal agency responsible for providing healthcare to AI/ANs) is severely underfunded, limiting access to services (including cancer care). In order to overcome distinct cancer health disparities, policy changes will be needed. This paper reviews the historical pattern of AI/AN healthcare and the challenges of the complex care needed from prevention through end-of-life care for cancer.

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The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Donald Warne.

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Warne, D., Kaur, J. & Perdue, D. American Indian/Alaska Native Cancer Policy: Systemic Approaches to Reducing Cancer Disparities. J Canc Educ 27 (Suppl 1), 18–23 (2012).

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  • Native cancer policy
  • Cancer disparities
  • Healthcare services