September 7, 2016 by NCCS CEO Shelley Fuld Nasso – National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
Today, the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel released ten recommendations to accelerate progress in cancer research. One recommendation is for symptom management research to minimize the debilitating side effects of cancer treatment. The recognition of the toll cancer treatment takes on survivors, during treatment and for the rest of their lives, is significant, and we at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship applaud the Blue Ribbon Panel for including this important recommendation:
Support research necessary to accelerate the development of guidelines for routine monitoring and management of patient-reported symptoms in all care settings, throughout the cancer continuum (from diagnosis throughout survivorship and at end-of-life) and tailored to differing patient and survivor needs. Systematically gathered patient-reported outcomes data and evidence-based symptom management are needed to improve patients’ quality of life and the likelihood that they will adhere to effective treatments that are effective rather than abandoning them because of intolerable side effects.
The report is the culmination of five months of effort on the part of the panel and its seven working groups, and I was pleased to serve on the Implementation Science Working Group. The panel and each working group included advocate representatives, and the groups were charged with “accelerating cancer research to achieve the ambitious goal of making a decade’s worth of cancer research progress in five years and to bring the most promising science and clinical developments to cancer patients in the near term.”
When the Moonshot effort was announced during President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address in January, NCCS recommended that in addition to promoting significant advances in treatment, the Moonshot should also aim for fewer and less severe long-term effects of treatment. We are gratified that one of the top recommendations recognizes the importance of cancer survivors’ quality of life and long-term survivorship.
We also recommended delivery and payment reforms to incorporate long-term monitoring and survivorship care for long-term survivors. The Blue Ribbon Panel shared policy recommendations with the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force and with Vice President Joe Biden. The Task Force and Vice President are preparing reports to be released this fall that will include policy changes and cross-cutting recommendations that go beyond research needs to foster system-wide improvements in cancer care delivery.
Implementing the recommendations will require significant funding from Congress, which is a daunting task in an election year. While the National Cancer Institute promised to seek ways to fund some of the projects within its existing budget parameters, today’s recommendations provide lawmakers and the public concrete steps to support and move forward with the necessary levels of funding. The health and well-being of the 1.6 million Americans diagnosed with cancer this year and the U.S.’s 15.5 million cancer survivors depends on it.
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Shelley Fuld Nasso is NCCS CEO, a member of the National Council of Research Advocates (NCRA), liaison from the NCRA to the National Cancer Advisory Board, and member of the Blue Ribbon Panels’ Implementation Sciences Working Group.