State of Cancer Care in America: 2016 Report Finds Unprecedented Opportunity Amid Profound Turbulence

Julie Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO
March 24, 2016

This is a shortened version of a post that was first published on ASCO Connection, March 15, 2016. ASCOConnection.org is the professional networking site for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the companion website for ASCO’s official member magazine, ASCO Connection.

Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, is the 2015-2016 President of ASCO.

ASCO recently released The State of Cancer Care in America: 2016 in the Journal of Oncology Practice and on Capitol Hill during a Congressional briefing. The report is ASCO's third annual analysis of the current trends and developments influencing oncology practice.

Even the most promising cancer treatment advances are only as good as our ability to deliver them to patients, share on twitter and this year’s report found a mixed picture—from scientific and practice innovations that are contributing to declining cancer mortality rates to persistent problems that challenge the delivery of high-quality care for every individual with cancer.

This year’s report clearly shows that strengthening the delivery system for cancer care has to be pursued just as aggressively as its research agenda.

Key findings

There is a lot to feel hopeful about in this year's State of Cancer Care in America report. The nation’s investment in federally funded cancer research has led to a growing number of novel drugs and technologies used to treat cancer and a resulting decrease in cancer incidence and mortality rates for key cancers in the United States.

Even more progress may be on the horizon. After 10 years of stagnant funding, Congress increased federal funding for cancer research by 5.34% for Fiscal Year 2016 (compared to FY 2015)—and the national commitment to cancer research continues to grow as Vice President Biden’s "moonshot" initiative would commit more than $700 million and pursue new collaborations to accelerate progress against cancer.

The report highlights a number of issues that may hinder our ability to bring cancer advances to our patients, including:

  • Increasing complexity of care delivery.

  • Remaining gaps in insurance coverage.

  • Rising cost of cancer care.

  • Access issues.

  • Inconsistent adoption, lack of interoperability of health information technology.

ASCO recommendations

Patient-centered care has never been more important, and as patients and their providers interact within a volatile health care system, our collective wisdom must be harnessed to overcome obstacles to successful outcomes. ASCO recommends the following:

  • Expand publicly funded insurance programs to offer consistent and adequate benefits to people living with cancer.

  • Test multiple payment and care delivery models to identify effective solutions.

  • Improve value in cancer care.

  • Advance health IT that supports efficient, coordinated care.

From all the data that has emerged and trends that have been analyzed, one overarching idea is clear. Information is the key to surviving—and thriving—in today’s cancer care environment, and The State of Cancer Care in America is a data-driven tool that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the current system. With each annual report, our goal is to provide meaningful insight that can help the cancer care community shape system-wide interventions and advocate for needed policy changes.

I am grateful to the many clinicians, practices, researchers, and staff who made this important work possible. I learned a great deal from this year's report, and I know you will too. If you haven't read it already, read the report now.

Read the full version of this article on ASCO Connection.