Cancer Plan Minnesota 2025


Every year, nearly 30,000 Minnesotans are diagnosed with cancer. It is the leading cause of death in our state, accounting for approximately 10,000 deaths annually. Each one represents a painful loss. Still, there is cause for hope. The overall death rate from cancer has been declining for almost three decades, and more people than ever are surviving with a diagnosis of cancer. In 2016, an estimated 276,770 Minnesotans were cancer survivors. Not all Minnesotans have shared equally in this progress, however. Persistent disparities in the risk factors for cancer, use of cancer screening and access to state of the art treatment and non-clinical support services are real and must be addressed.

Cancer Plan Minnesota is a framework for action that invites everyone to get involved in reducing the burden of cancer and promoting health equity. It challenges organizations and individuals in every sector and every region of the state to step up, work together and make a difference for all Minnesotans.

Five overarching goals have guided the MN Cancer Alliance since its founding in 2005. They continue to guide the current work and provide an organizing
structure for this plan.

Looking for a PDF of the printed plan? Find it here.


Prevent cancer from occurring
Imagine a cancer-free Minnesota. What would it take? Not every cancer can be prevented. Yet, almost two thirds of cancers can be prevented if people would stop smoking cigarettes, get more exercise and eat healthier food. Achieving such lifestyle changes is not easy, however. Many Minnesotans live in neighborhoods and communities where they lack access to healthy food and places to be physically active. Some are exposed to environmental toxins like radon gas, which can cause cancer. Cancer Plan Minnesota suggests ways to address such factors.

Detect cancer at its earliest stage
Many cancers can be effectively treated when detected early, and some cancers, such as cervical cancer and colorectal cancer, can be prevented through screening. Yet despite good evidence to support the use of screening, changes in guidelines, uncertainties about insurance coverage, the need to take time away from work and the cost of transportation to get to screening appointments create barriers for many people. People whose lives are complicated by poverty, job insecurity and language and cultural differences face even greater challenges. Cancer Plan Minnesota seeks to counteract these and other barriers to early detection.

Treat all cancer patients with the most appropriate and effective therapy
Immunotherapy, precision medicine, new miracle drugs – these terms were in the headlines when this plan was being formulated. Along with the
hope they offer, novel therapies such as these have been accompanied by sky-rocketing costs. Helping patients and their families understand their treatment choices, work through the financial and legal challenges that often accompany a cancer diagnosis, and access the rehabilitation, wellness and non-clinical support services they need are among the objectives Alliance members plan to emphasize over the next decade. Often felt most acutely during active treatment, these needs are survivorship issues, too.

Optimize the quality of life of every person affected by cancer
Advances in detection and treatment allow more and more people to not only survive but thrive following a diagnosis of cancer. Still, a cancer
diagnosis remains a life-changing event not just for the survivor, but also for family members, friends and caregivers. Financial stress, physical
and mental effects of treatment, hard-to-ignore worries about whether the cancer will return are just a few of the challenges cancer survivors face. Guidelines for survivorship care differ according to cancer type, stage at diagnosis and treatment regimen, but they all call for regular check-ups and good primary care post-treatment through the end of life. Cancer Plan Minnesota seeks to help cancer survivors live their best possible lives.

Eliminate disparities in the burden of cancer
This plan looks ahead almost a decade. The world around us will undoubtedly change during that time. Scientific breakthroughs will open new
avenues for fighting cancer, and progress on the socio-political front hopefully will lessen the inequities and barriers that keep too many people from getting the health care they need. Achieving health equity is at the forefront of this plan. It is an integral component of every objective and strategy. The challenge is to move from plan to action. The Alliance urges every reader to take up that challenge.


The Minnesota Department of Health’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program staff led the planning effort. The MN Cancer Alliance’s Steering
Committee will spearhead its implementation. An Advisory Team ensured the process was inclusive, open and forward-thinking. More than 30
listening sessions and online feedback informed six workgroups that recommended objectives and strategies for the plan. Three criteria guided their recommendations:

Alignment – What other organizations already are working toward complementary ends? Could they be enlisted to help?

Change Potential – Can objectives be accomplished through a change in policy, systems or the environment? What strategies will help achieve and sustain change?

Health Equity – Will recommended objectives and strategies reduce disparities and spark action that will benefit every Minnesotan affected by cancer?


The core of the plan consists of 19 objectives and 92 strategies. Color-coded bullets identify which of the Cancer Alliance’s five overarching goals is addressed by each objective. Use the color-coded markers to find the objectives and strategies that align most closely with your work or interests.

The measurement section of Cancer Plan Minnesota 2025 identifies targets for action. Where baseline data are available, they are reported. However in several cases the data that mark progress don’t exist because the proposed work is new. “TBD” means that lead indicators need to be determined; action plans need to be developed; data need to be collected and analyzed.

Most importantly, we challenge users to be guided and inspired to action by the brief portraits of survivors whose stories are sprinkled throughout the plan. Their faces remind us that the work of cancer control is about people. These individuals and their families represent the courage, hope and spirit of fellow Minnesotans who have experienced the burden of cancer. To them, we extend a special thank you.


Cancer Plan Minnesota 2025 depends on people taking action to achieve the objectives and strategies it identifies. Its ability to move traditional and non-traditional partners to action will be the plan’s true measure of success.

The important thing to understand about this strategic plan is that it marks a starting point, not an end point. It will undoubtedly be amended over the next decade. Watch this page and the individual objective pages for updates.