HHS Releases National Cancer Plan to Advance the Goals of the Cancer Moonshot and Improve Outcomes for All Patients

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On April 3, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a National Cancer Plan, which calls for collaboration to realize the objectives laid out in the Cancer Moonshot to reduce cancer mortality by at least 50% over the next 25 years and “end cancer as we know it.” Developed by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, in conjunction with the Cancer Moonshot, HHS, and representatives from the cancer community, the comprehensive National Cancer Plan details eight specific goals and a set of four strategies associated with each goal, describing essential research directions and implementation activities to maximize benefits for all patients with cancer.

Included in the set of strategies is the development of new methods to detect cancers in earlier stages, especially for those cancers that currently do not have effective screening tests. The plan also prioritizes eliminating health disparities and emphasizes the need to understand the biology behind precancerous cells to improve cancer prevention, reduce cancer mortality, and increase quality of life for cancer survivors.

Eight Goals of the National Cancer Plan

  1. Prevent cancer through the adoption of proven strategies that reduce the risk of cancer.
  2. Detect cancers early to reduce morbidity and mortality.
  3. Develop effective treatments with minimal side effects, and make them accessible to all people with cancer, including those with rare cancers, metastatic cancers, and treatment-resistant disease.
  4. Eliminate inequities through equitable access to prevention, screening, treatment, and survivorship care.
  5. Deliver optimal evidenced-based, patient-centered care that prioritizes prevention, reduces cancer morbidity and mortality, and improves the lives of cancer survivors, including those living with cancer.
  6. Engage every person with cancer or at risk of cancer to participate in research or otherwise contribute to the collective knowledge base and eliminate barriers to clinical trial participation.
  7. Maximize data utility to share privacy-protected health data to achieve rapid progress against cancer.
  8. Optimize the oncology workforce to reflect the communities served and meet the needs of all people with cancer and those at risk of cancer to ensure longer and healthier lives after cancer.

Providing a Cancer Care Roadmap

“At the heart of the plan are eight goals that build on our current knowledge and describe an ideal future state—essential aspects of ending cancer as we know it,” said Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, Director of the National Cancer Institute, in a statement. “By identifying how efforts across the cancer community align with these goals, we will be better able to identify gaps and work across society to address them. The plan will evolve over time, as science progresses and needs change.”

“This plan represents the exact kind of roadmap the nation needs,” said Eric P. Winer, MD, FASCO, ASCO President, in a statement. “Decades of past federal research investment are already paying off with promising new methods of early detection and new treatments. But research alone won’t get us to our goals. We need a concerted and coordinated effort across the entire cancer community to make sure new discoveries and proven interventions reach our entire population of individuals with cancer and have a chance to benefit everyone.”

A Call to Action

According to the plan, to succeed in ending “cancer as we know it,” efforts must be focused not just on research, but on promoting collaboration among all interested parties to leverage available resources and sustain communication among all partners to share knowledge gained, continuously updating goals as progress is achieved.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.