State of Cancer Care in America: Poised for Transformation, but Challenges Loom Large

March 21, 2017
Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO

Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO, is the President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, a Professor of Internal Medicine, the Stuart B. Padnos Professor in Breast Cancer, and the Clinical Director of the Breast Oncology Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Today, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) released its fourth annual State of Cancer Care in America report. share on twitter  This annual report looks at the tremendous transformation that is occurring in the way cancer care is provided. It outlines major progress during the past year, as well as access, affordability, and administrative hurdles that need to be overcome in order to provide the best possible cancer care for all Americans.

The State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 highlights the growing improvements in cancer care, including advancements in precision medicine, efforts to ensure high-quality, high-value care, and emerging big-data initiatives that are breaking new ground to help improve cancer treatment. The report also notes that many challenges exist in cancer treatment, including patients’ access to care, the cost of care, and how administrative costs are diverting time and resources away from patients.

Despite these challenges, the State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 describes an optimistic future for cancer care. The report also includes some ASCO recommendations that are intended to strengthen the current system and ensure access to high-quality cancer care far into the future:

  • Health insurance. All individuals with cancer should have health insurance (PDF) that ensures access to high-quality cancer care delivered by a cancer specialist and provides the full range of services needed by patients in a timely manner.

  • Federal funding. To ensure the ongoing development and delivery of promising new treatments for patients with cancer, the federal government should provide funding and infrastructure support for cancer research, the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Payment reform. As the nation moves to a health care reimbursement system based on the value of the care delivered, new payment models will need to be developed that support patient-centered cancer care.

  • Electronic health record (EHR) functions. Efforts should continue to support the way EHRs are allowed to communicate with each other. This can help us speed up the pace of progress in cancer research.

  • Administrative burden. Health care providers have to provide regular reports and documentation to follow regulations, but this takes away time and resources that could be devoted to patients. Efforts should be made to streamline and standardize documentation and reporting requirements.

Read ASCO’s complete State of Cancer Care in America: 2017 report.