Inside View: An Ecosystem To Improve Cancer Care

By: Scientific American – October 27, 2020

Cancer is not a disease fought alone. The stronger the community, the better the outcomes for all.

Although many people associate better cancer care with new treatments, advanced therapies are just one piece of the puzzle. Chatrick Paul, who oversees the U.S. oncology business at AstraZeneca, says the often-overlooked cancer care ecosystem is another. Through policy roundtables, an awards program and digital partnerships, Paul and his colleagues are building and supporting a nationwide community of healthcare professionals, policymakers and patient advocates dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by cancer.

 

When looking at oncology, how is AstraZeneca going beyond the medicine to support patients diagnosed with cancer?

AstraZeneca’s ambition is to one day eliminate cancer as a cause of death. We realize that we are only one piece of the puzzle in delivering on this ambition, and that we cannot do this alone. We must come together as a multidisciplinary community to realize meaningful change and to truly impact cancer care in our country.

 

How has this cohesive vision of care been impacted by COVID-19?

Chatrick Paul, U.S. oncology business at AstraZeneca. Credit: AstraZeneca

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the delivery of care and has reinforced the need to address urgent issues for those who are living in underserved urban and rural parts of the country. Applying what we have learned in identifying and treating COVID-19, we can better equip ourselves to drive awareness and adoption of testing and diagnostics for the treatment of cancer. Similar to treating the virus, early identification and treatment of cancer may provide the best chances of treating to cure. This can only be done by ensuring pathology capabilities are available and appropriately resourced. It’s with this in mind that we are working to build stronger relationships with advocacy groups and research institutions to improve diversity in clinical trials and showcase real-world evidence in addressing the needs of all patients.

 

AstraZeneca’s YOUR Cancer program launched at the end of 2018. Can you share an update on the program?

YOUR Cancer is a community engagement program that spotlights the difference-makers of cancer care who are working to realize tangible change for patients. Through the program, we are supporting a nationwide oncology community dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by cancer.

Now in its third year, the YOUR Cancer program seeks to convene patient-advocacy organizations, professional societies, policy-makers, healthcare professionals and many more to identify and drive awareness and action on areas where change will be the most impactful for patients. With the community, we’re working to identify the areas of greatest need which may include testing and diagnostics, early intervention, precision medicine, access and health equity.

 

You recently held the second annual Cancer Community — C2 — Awards. Can you explain the program and how it serves to realize positive change across the country?

The Cancer Community, or C2, Awards recognize the true change-makers in cancer care — the passionate individuals and organizations who are making a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer. This year, we received more than 130 nominations from across 31 states, highlighting just how much incredible work is being done in the fight against cancer. Nominations were reviewed by an esteemed panel of community leaders, and the ceremony recognized the work of 10 inspiring individuals and organizations. This year’s ceremony was held virtually, but carried through the spirit of celebration, collaboration, networking and comradery as together we all hope for a world without cancer.

 

How else has the YOUR Cancer program brought together the cancer ecosystem to impact change?

In addition to the C2 Awards, the YOUR Cancer program seeks to raise awareness and drive action on key priorities for the cancer community in three ways: hosting community roundtable discussions; opening forums to discuss cancer care on a national stage; and ensuring relevant and accurate information is shared across digital platforms.

With the community, we’ve convened state-level policy discussions to identify and address barriers to care. A great example of the forward action taking place can be seen in California where work resulted in legislation being introduced to prohibit prior authorization for biomarker testing, eliminating unnecessary delays for patients who are trying to access appropriate treatment.

We’ve also brought the cancer conversation to the main stage, driving awareness and action where change is needed most. Just recently, we partnered with the Personalized Medicine Coalition to host a discussion focused on precision medicine as part of The Economist’s War on Cancer series and we’ve held panel discussions during the annual Washington Post Chasing Cancer Summit. During each, we partnered with oncology leaders to discuss the areas where we can come together to make meaningful change and identify potential solutions to current challenges or barriers to cancer care.

We’re also working with more than 50 partner organizations across digital platforms to share resources on community support programs, disease information and advocacy efforts. All of our work aims to provide patients with the information that they may need — emphasizing their central role in the oncology ecosystem.

To learn more about the YOUR Cancer program and the C2 Awards, visit www.YourCancer.org.

This article was produced for AstraZeneca by Scientific American Custom Media, a division separate from the magazine’s board of editors. October 27, 2020