Over the past few decades, we have made significant progress against many forms of cancer. Today, there are nearly 14 million cancer survivors living in the United States, 15 percent of whom were diagnosed 20 or more years ago. There have also been more than 1 million fewer cancer deaths since the early 1990s as a result of declining death rates from cancer.
Perhaps the most compelling, as well as the least understood of the evolving models for cancer research and care is patient-centered research and care. As a cancer survivor and long-time advocate, I am often asked to provide the patient perspective in the various venues where patient-centered issues are discussed.
We are now in an era of incredible scientific progress, where our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of disease enables scientists and researchers to develop treatments that are more targeted and precise in their impact. As highlighted in a blog post by Dr. Raju Kucherlapati from Harvard, oncology is at the leading edge of advances in personalized medicine, offering patients better options that deliver improved health outcomes.
Much has been written of late about the potentially transformative impact of Big Data – by which people usually mean massive amounts of clinical, genomic, demographic and transactional information that is way too large to handle with traditional information technology. Such impact seems to be centered, however, on Big IT companies helping Big Provider organizations in ways that are not visible to us, and seem to have no relevance to our lives as patients so far.
In order for mental health treatment to be front and center in our ongoing conversation about health, we need to engage those who are living with and through these conditions. While many people can maintain a quality life with treatment and support, living with a mental illness can be a painful experience and often a lonely one. The general lack of knowledge about mental illness stigmatizes the individual and deters many people from seeking treatment.