Dec 22, 2016
Last January, President Barack Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot Initiative during his final State of the Union Address. The moonshot, led by Vice President Joe Biden, galvanized the nation’s commitment to conquering cancer and aligned the resources of the federal government to accelerate progress and foster greater collaboration in cancer research.
Over the past year, ASCO has worked closely with the Vice President’s moonshot team by submitting recommendations to the Vice President, the Cancer Moonshot Task Force, and the National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel; speaking at public forums; engaging in strategic discussions; and welcoming the Vice President to address the world’s cancer care leaders at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting.
In October 2016, Vice President Biden and the Cancer Moonshot Task Force issued joint reports with recommendations on how to improve cancer prevention, screening, treatment, and survivorship. The recommendations outlined in the Vice President’s and task force’s respective reports highlighted policies and efforts that would foster scientific breakthroughs and treatments for patients, make better use of data, strengthen prevention and diagnosis, and improve access to care. If implemented, these recommendations would not only help accelerate the discovery of new cancer treatments, but also expand patient access to high-quality care.
ASCO was particularly pleased that the Cancer Moonshot Task Force report highlighted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s continuing work with ASCO and Friends of Cancer Research to evaluate clinical trial entry criteria that may unnecessarily restrict clinical trial access, such as brain metastases, HIV status, organ dysfunction, and age. Changing eligibility criteria to enable broader participation in clinical trials and ensure that trial participants are more reflective of the overall population of patients with cancer has the potential to dramatically increase the knowledge we could gain from scientific inquiry and the efficiency of clinical trial accrual, all while expanding patient access to cutting-edge intervention.
The reports also called attention to the need to facilitate access to and sharing of health care information for patients and providers. Oncologists routinely care for patients with complicated cases in which radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, imaging, and pathology must all be carefully coordinated to ensure the highest quality care. Oncology practices are struggling with timely access to health care data, whether they are in different states, across town, or even right next door to one another.
The Cancer Moonshot Initiative has outlined what is needed in the fight against cancer, but there is more work to be done. ASCO has urged Congress and the new presidential administration to take the following steps to keep up momentum:
- Advance initiatives that make it easier to share health care information to improve patient care and support quality measurement and research.
- Streamline regulatory and reporting requirements to decrease the amount of time researchers spend on administrative tasks, so they can spend more time on research.
- Provide federal funding to continue the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and increased federal support for the National Institutes of Health and other research institutions.
ASCO will continue to work with Congress and the new administration to move these recommendations forward.