Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Declaration for the World, A Noble Mission For All

There are few times in life when one gets to watch history being made. Today is one of those times.


I am in New York with a number of colleagues from the American Cancer Society and other committed organizations to observe a UN High Level Meeting which will–at long last–put non-communicable diseases on the international agenda. The impact of the decisions made here over the next two days can indeed change the face of global health forever. [more]


Those may sound like lofty words, but in fact they are very real.


For years–and rightly so–the international health agenda has been focused on more basic, fundamental issues including the impact of infectious diseases and maternal/child health. As time has gone on, these diseases–including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV–have taken huge tolls on mankind, especially in underdeveloped lands.


But the world is changing. We are becoming a more global society. What we do in one place does indeed affect our brothers and sisters throughout the world. And, as we well know from the events of the past several months, what is done elsewhere impacts all of us, including the developed world.


So it should be no surprise that … Continue reading →

We Can Treat The Cancer, But Can We Care For The Survivors?

Are we the victims of our own success?


That may be an unusual-and some would say offensive-way to open a discussion of cancer survivorship. I mean it only with the best of intentions, for when it comes to cancer survivorship over the past 40 years, there is much to be grateful for. But that doesn’t mean the journey has been without difficulty, and it doesn’t mean that there isn’t much more to do.


Last week, in Washington, DC, LIVESTRONG brought together over 120 experts on the issues surrounding cancer survivorship to do something reasonable and fairly straightforward: define the essential elements of survivorship that every cancer patient, their loved ones and caregivers should expect once the acute treatment part of their journey has been completed. What’s amazing is that no one has been able to do this before.


Having those experts in one room at one place at one time brought into focus the enormous task we face in trying to define those elements, let alone how we configure our systems of care to provide those services in a world where care is becoming more diffuse and resources for anything other than the most necessary care … Continue reading →

Extrapolated Science: Headlines Don’t Reflect The Results In Recent Report On Screening Mammography

Please, please, please say it’s so…


That was my initial reaction today when I saw news stories about a study presented at a breast cancer conference sponsored by a number of leading organizations with a professional interest in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.


The headlines were pretty clear, to the effect that the study showed the value of screening mammography in women between the ages of 40-49. The accompanying stories suggested that this research essentially repudiated the recommendations of the United States Preventive Services Task Force initially published in November 2009.


You may remember that event, since it created a huge amount of media and public interest when the Task Force suggested that screening mammograms to find breast cancer early should not be done routinely in women between the ages of 40 and 49. This was a change from its prior recommendation, and was in conflict with the opinions of the American Cancer Society and other organizations which conitinued to endorse routine breast cancer screening in this age group.


There has been a lot of water under the dam since then, and there have been additional scientific studies reported about the value of screening … Continue reading →

Unsung Heroes: The Commission on Cancer Announces New Cancer Care Quality Standards

Did you ever wonder if anyone is “watching the shop” at your local hospital when you go there to get diagnosed or treated for cancer? For the vast majority (70%) of cancer patients in this country, the fortunate answer is “yes.”


That’s the role of the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer (CoC), an organization which includes the College and 47 member organizations devoted to establishing standards for quality cancer care in over 1500 hospitals throughout the United States. And accreditation is not limited to just hospitals. Even free-standing cancer programs-those that are not hospital based-can seek accreditation from the Commission.


As you might imagine, establishing and monitoring those standards is no small task. And keeping them updated to reflect the latest information on quality cancer care–along with challenging the hospitals to do more to improve quality than they do routinely–is a vital part of the mission of the Commission.


So it was no small accomplishment when the Commission announced last week that they were issuing their latest update of these standards, titled “Cancer Program Standards 2012: Ensuring Patient Centered Care.” And it is no accident that in a day when the slogan “patient centered care” … Continue reading →