Beyond Bench to Bedside: Fulfilling the Promise
of Today's Research Advances
Last week in New Orleans, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) celebrated 40 years of quality cancer care, but more than ever before, ASCO participants from across the country and around the world stressed the need for a balanced research agenda that contemplates the ultimate goal of reaching the public with innovative prevention and treatment strategies that are evidence-based, cost-effective, accessible, and affordable. ASCO recognizes that quality care cannot be achieved if research does not reach the bedside and that oncologists in the community are the effector arm to translate cancer research into practical applications.
It is clear that the promise of discovery created by new and targeted therapies from the fields of genomics and proteomics has the possibility to achieve cancer interventions never before possible. It is equally evident that the improvements in health status to be generated from our greater understandings of the molecular biology of cancer, the mechanisms and toxicities of drugs, biologicals, and other treatments, will not be fully realized if we, as a community, do not also contemplate the long-term effects - physiological, psychosocial, economic, and cultural - that current and developing treatments will have on patients, survivors, providers, and their communities. Delivery of quality cancer care will not be achieved if research generates solutions that are innovative but not affordable.
NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach reiterated the NCI 2015 goal "to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer," with a renewed enthusiasm, strengthened by the commitment of the ASCO leadership, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and more recently the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to collaborate on a joint research agenda. This collaboration begins with a common language and is supported by a shared infrastructure to allow research results to be compared quickly, providing a platform to create opportunities for CMS and FDA to participate in the design of effective clinical trials involving industry, government, academia, and the general medical public. Importantly, these collaborations will offer the opportunity to evaluate clinical outcomes with a view to delivering affordable cancer care to all. The commitment is clear. It is now incumbent on all of us to carry this vision through to fruition.
Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr.