In this season of national political conventions, the American Cancer Society is kicking off a campaign to educate Iowa voters and U.S. Senate candidates about how vital it is to have access to health care and medical screenings. Kathi Hansen is a spokeswoman for the agency’s Cancer Action Network.

“It’s important for people to be able to get screenings with fewer barriers, whether it’s cost barriers or other access barriers, just because there aren’t enough providers,” Hansen says. “Those are the kinds of things we’re concerned about but it’s always through the eyes of the cancer patients.”

As federal officials work to trim the budget, alarms are also being sounded that vital medical funding is at risk of being slashed. Hansen says the loss of federal dollars for cancer research is a major concern. “Funding hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation,” Hansen says.

“There could be better treatments or cures or preventive techniques that are in a lab somewhere that may never get out to the public if funding is cut off or reduced.” It’s estimated nearly 6,400 Iowans will die from cancer this year while 16,000 new cases will be diagnosed.

Hansen encourages Iowans to sign the online petition to show candidates the importance of the funding issue. The site is