Blue Ribbon Panel Offers Recommendations for Improving Cancer Outcomes

Experts set groundwork for ‘moonshot’ initiative

When 28 distinguished individuals convened earlier this year at the National Cancer Institute to help shape the scientific mission of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, they were given five months to draft guidelines to accelerate cancer research, prevention, and care. The National Cancer Advisory Board has now approved the Blue Ribbon Panel’s 10 recommendations.

“In a very limited amount of time we were able to come together to address important topics to help Vice President Biden’s mission to make a decade’s worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in just five years,” said panel member María Elena Martínez, PhD, of the University of California–San Diego School of Medicine. “My hope is that not just the National Cancer Institute, but other organizations and industry, as well, take these recommendations to heart and contribute to moving these guidelines forward.”

Martínez co-chaired the Implementation Science Working Group, which was tasked with drafting recommendations that improve cancer outcomes by identifying and testing methods that more effectively implement evidence-based interventions for cancer prevention, risk assessment, screening and early detection, and prognosis, treatment and survivorship.

The group recommended expanding the use of proven prevention and early detection strategies to further address tobacco cessation, colorectal cancer screening, vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV), and screening for hereditary cancer syndromes. This recommendation has the potential to affect large populations through prevention strategies.

In the United States, only 50% to 60% of people are screened for colorectal cancer; those figures drop to 20% to 30% among low-income individuals, Martínez said. HPV vaccinations rates are worse, with only 40% of age-eligible girls and 20% of age-eligible boys completing the recommended vaccine dosage.

The panel’s 10 recommendations are:

  • Engage patients to contribute their comprehensive tumor profile data to expand knowledge about what therapies work, in whom, and in which types of cancer.
  • Establish a cancer immunotherapy clinical trials network devoted exclusively to discovering and evaluating immunotherapy approaches.
  • Identify therapeutic targets to overcome drug resistance through studies that determine the mechanisms that lead cancer cells to become resistant to previously effective treatments.
  • Create a national ecosystem for sharing and analyzing cancer data so that researchers, clinicians, and patients will be able to contribute data, which will facilitate efficient data analysis.
  • Improve the understanding of fusion oncoproteins in pediatric cancer and use new preclinical models to develop inhibitors that target them.
  • Accelerate the development of guidelines for routine monitoring and management of patient-reported symptoms to minimize the debilitating effects of cancer and its treatment.
  • Reduce cancer risk and cancer health disparities through approaches in development and testing and through broad adoption of proven prevention strategies.
  • Predict the response to standard treatments through retrospective analysis of patient specimens.
  • Create dynamic 3D maps of human tumor evolution to document the genetic lesions and cellular interactions of each tumor as it evolves from a precancerous lesion to advanced cancer.
  • Develop new cancer technologies to characterize tumors and test therapies.

Source: UC San Diego Health; September 7, 2016.