The Pathway to Progress

An update from the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative

03.06.14 | By Randy Burkholder

This post originally appeared on the Age of Personalized Medicine.

by Jon Retzlaff

Recent advances in cancer research have expanded our understanding of how cancer develops, and how to target treatments for specific cancer types. However, cancer – a collective term to describe more than 200 unique diseases – remains the second most common cause of disease-related death in the United States according to the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2013.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) supports the need for ongoing research and the translation of scientific discoveries into new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat cancer. To that end, along with the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) and Feinstein Kean Healthcare (FKH), the Turning the Tide Against Cancer national conference was convened in 2012.

As members across all stakeholder groups joined together to consider the status and future of innovation in cancer research and care, it became clear that an ongoing discussion was needed to sustain progress against cancer. Today, the conference has evolved into an initiative to unite stakeholders within the cancer community to identify specific policy proposals policies that align with emerging science and evolving perceptions of value.

Last week, Clinical Cancer Research published an article authored by members of the initiative’s advisory committee. “Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation: The Pathway to Progress” examines the themes that have emerged from ongoing discussions in the cancer stakeholder community. Key points of discussion include the need to develop policies and regulatory pathways that reward innovation and acknowledge the unique dynamics of patient-centered cancer care.

The report also points out that while we have a greater ability to collect and analyze scientific information than at any other point in medical history, a deluge of data alone will not answer the basic question of how value is defined. I encourage you to review the article to learn more about the challenges of defining value in a field where patient experiences and expectations can vary widely based on their clinical and life circumstances and personal preferences.

To address some of these challenges, the authors have identified policy suggestions that move towards better alignment with patient needs and values, and also consider the way science and clinical practice evolves over time, including incentivizing patient-centered research and care, and promoting a learning health care system. These are not prescriptive, but rather are a call for further discussion and community action. This fall, AACR, PMC and FKH will convene a national conference in Washington, D.C., to explore specific policy solutions that have emerged from our continued work. These policy solutions seek to foster continued innovation in cancer research and care so that improved outcomes for patients are delivered. Please stay tuned for additional information in the coming weeks.

To learn more, please visit www.turningthetideagainstcancer.org.

Read the article, “Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation: The Pathway to Progress”.

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