FCC, National Cancer Institute sign memorandum on rural broadband

The Federal Communications Commission and the National Cancer Institute signed a memorandum of understanding focused on improving the lives of rural cancer patients through broadband access, the FCC announced Dec. 12.

The agencies unveiled a multiyear public-private collaboration called Linking & Amplifying User-Centered Networks through Connected Health, or LAUNCH, as their inaugural project under the memorandum. The project targets Appalachian populations with high cancer mortality rates and low levels of broadband access.

LAUNCH will bring together cancer experts, researchers and technologists to assess whether improved broadband connectivity improves symptoms management for cancer patients residing in rural Kentucky.

Under the program, patients will be able to report their symptoms electronically to their providers to help manage, monitor and treat their symptoms.

"The quality, length and even value of life should not be determined by where you happen to be born or live," said Michele Ellison, chair of the FCC's Connect2Health Task Force, a multidisciplinary initiative founded to improve broadband and healthcare technologies. "Too many rural Americans suffer with late cancer diagnoses, unrelenting symptoms and inadequate access to care."

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