Clinical experts set goals to accelerate Cancer Moonshot

A commission has issued guidelines aimed at setting milestones and measures for Cancer Moonshot.

More than 50 leading U.S. cancer doctors have created guidelines and milestones aimed at accelerating the Cancer Moonshot program. 

The report, which was penned by an oncology commission formed by The Lancet, outlines 13 priority areas to improve the medical response to cancer, and they touch on areas including research and expanded treatment options.

In late 2016, as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress approved $1.8 billion in funding to the Cancer Moonshot program. Former Vice President Joe Biden has called on the tech industry to take a leading role in innovating cancer care through the Moonshot program. 

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The commission's guidelines aim to expand on a report released by Biden last year on the program's progress and turn the goals he outlined in that document into clear metrics and milestones that can be used to measure progress. 

Priority areas outlined in the report include: 

  • Pushing for more precision cancer prevention, while also engaging patients in wellness initiatives.
  • Improving screening and detection among high-risk groups for cancer. Develop new ways to assess tumors.
  • Expanding access to clinical studies, including bringing in more pediatric and minority participants.
  • Identifying and testing new ways to harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer.
  • Increase data sharing for cancer, and expand data "lakes" that hold patient information alongside treatments, toxic effects and Food and Drug Administration approvals. 

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Each goal is tied to a specific timeframe in the report. For example, the report calls for providers to collect more than 10,000 cancer specimens in the next two to four years to accelerate research and prevention. The idea is to accomplish 10 years worth of work in five, Cliff Hudis, M.D., CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the report's co-author, told HealthDay.

In addition to accelerating the cancer research and treatment response stateside, the commission hopes that the recommendations can stimulate international collaboration on cancer care. 

"Anybody who's done strategic planning knows that this is a crucial step," Hudis said. "You have to identify what's possible, what's feasible, what you can assess and then you task yourself with delivering."