Next Steps To Turn the Tide Against Cancer

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Three weeks ago, 200+ health care leaders representing a broad spectrum of stakeholders convened in Washington, D.C., for the second conference of the Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation initiative. There were intense discussions — among panelists and in the hallways between sessions — on the challenges facing cancer research and care.

Now back at our desks, the question arises, what do we want to do next — as individuals, as a community, and as a nation? And, critically, what must we do next to enable and encourage innovation in cancer research?

In 2011, Feinstein Kean Healthcare joined forces with the Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to create the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative, in response to disconnects within the health care system that threatened to stifle advances, ironically at an unprecedented moment of scientific progress.

We saw disconnects between patients and the health care system…disconnects between the accelerating pace of science and the slowness of change in our policy environment…and disconnects between the exigencies of driving innovation and the sober realities of a cost-contained era.

As we observed these disconnects, we also noted that as a nation we were attempting to solve complex problems while operating within traditional vertical silos (e.g., patients in patient advocacy organizations; physicians in physician professional societies; researchers in scientific societies) rather than cross-sector collaborations.

And so, we sought to catalyze the entire cancer and health policy community towards action by connecting all stakeholders through the Turning the Tide Against Cancer initiative. Uniquely, stakeholders from across the cancer ecosystem have been represented in all events and deliberations of the initiative.

Now, building upon several years of intellectual exploration, research, dialogue, debate and the deliberations of the broad range of experts that produced the Issue Brief, “A Pathway for Change: Supporting the Shift to Patient-Centered Cancer Research and Care and Addressing Value and Cost of Cancer Care” released at the conference, we ask again, what’s next?

I propose that every individual touched by cancer, and every organization concerned about the nation’s cancer burden, take responsibility for three actions.

  1. Review the Issue Brief, and share your thoughts/ideas about the policy options and/or propose other options.
  2. Involve your organization in the Turning the Tide Against Cancer Through Sustained Medical Innovation initiative, by participating in our activities and events.
  3. Join our partners PMC and AACR and advocate for those options that you agree with, integrating them into your own policy platforms and your communications with policymakers in order to drive momentum and catalyze change.

In the past, individual champions such as the renowned Mary Lasker were a driving force to advance and change our approach to cancer research and care. As Dr. Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society asked following the first Turning the Tide Against Cancer conference, “Where is our Mary Lasker going to come from? …Who is going to guide this revolution?

I believe that in this era, we are all destined and empowered to be leaders. And as I looked out at the attendees of the Turning the Tide Against Cancer conference, I saw Mary Lasker in the face of each participant. We are all Mary Lasker. We must all be Mary Lasker.

Please join us as we take the next step.

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