Notably since the mapping of the human genome at the beginning of the century, new targeted treatments for multiple types of cancer have helped lead to a 25 percent age-adjusted decline in the cancer death rate in two decades.
Design With Mission
“With a promise to conque cancer, it is also critical to ensure that cancer patients today benefit from technologies, tests and therapies that have already been developed.”
But, according to Otis Brawley, former chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, 130,000 Americans die annually from cancer because they do not benefit from known science. There are, for example, more than 90 cancer therapies on the market that are linked to identifiable biological markers. However, studies show that as many as 40 percent of patients who test positive for actionable genetic mutations never receive the therapies that are indicated by those tests.
This “practice gap” largely results from limited access to the latest developments in science and technology. Eighty-five percent of cancer patients get treated in community health systems, which often do not have the resources to implement the latest advances in cancer care. In addition, some health insurance plans do not want to reimburse for new diagnostic tests because their clinical utility has not been confirmed by time-consuming — and expensive — controlled, randomized clinical trials.
Furthermore because new treatments are developed for individual patients, the most advanced and promising cancer therapies are very expensive.
What can be done to get us closer to the goal of improving the lives of most cancer patients — not a quarter-century from now but before the next election?
“We need to do a better job making sure that the technologies of the future will be accessible. In development today are potentially paradigm-changing new technologies for early diagnosis that can find evidence of cancer wherever it occurs in the body using a small amount of biopsy. These new tests will be widely available after their clinical utility is demonstrated."
The enormous progress has occurred and is likely to take place well before the middle of the century. Improving the lives of cancer patients is within our reach today while President Biden’s 25-year goals are commendable.
Abstracted from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/13 By Edward Abrahams.