World Cancer Day: Access for all is not beyond us

February 3, 2015 | by Nicole White

"Not beyond us." On World Cancer Day, researchers and caregivers around the globe are embracing this refrain.

world cancer day On World Cancer Day, healthy lifestyles, early detection of cancers, better quality of life and access to cancer care for all are not beyond us.

Specifically, the day calls for action to support healthier lifestyles, early cancer detection, quality of life and access to care. In a time of impressive scientific discovery and narrowing health care networks, City of Hope experts say, its access that will help us achieve the other goals.

Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of Medical Quality and Quality, Risk and Regulatory Management at City of Hope, is a clinician and researcher in the field of hematology, and has also studied issues of health care access.

“On World Cancer Day, which comes just days after President Obama’s public commitment to precision medicine, it is worth considering how far we have come in the struggle against cancer – and how far we have to go in terms of ensuring access to ever-improving treatments,” he said. “This extraordinary time of discovery and new treatments is threatened by a strange set of political and economic circumstances that may undermine our ability to bring innovative care to our patients: The dual threats of cuts to funding for the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute, and a narrowing of health care networks that has limited patient access to care at academic medical centers.”

Steven T. Rosen, provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope, said narrow provider networks often leave out top cancer hospitals, where expert doctors and scientists work together to provide leading-edge treatments.

“Precision medicine is the present and future – individualizing treatment to maximize benefit and minimize side effects is the ultimate goal,” Rosen said. “The hope is that in the future, we may be more precise in treatments for all cancer patients.”
In order to provide that care for all patients, all must be given access to the most expert care available.

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