Many years ago President Nixon declared war on cancer and since that time more than $100 billion has been spent fighting the war. Better drugs, better regimens and better forms of radiation have caused the five-year cancer survival rate to be realized by 60% of patients today as compared to 40% a half century ago.
Cancer treatment in the US currently costs $125 billion per year and that number is expected to grow to $173 billion by 2020. The problem with our current treatment system is that we are missing the opportunity to gather data to know what works and what doesn’t for specific types of cancer. There’s no central data repository for cancer treatment and because of that we’re missing out on the opportunity to learn how to make cancer treatment better.
The evidence for a central registry is easy to find, just look at childhood cancer. There’s currently a 90% survival rate for childhood cancer. The nationwide Children’s Oncology Group registers every child with cancer in a clinical trial that collects information about treatment and outcomes. The knowledge gained through this registry has helped providers incorporate the latest evidence into treatment decisions and to adjust therapies based on what has been proven to work best.
The time is right for us to begin collecting the same type of data for ALL adult cancers as well. Electronic health records are being mandated for all health care providers in the US and those records could be set up to collect data from the more than 1 million adults who receive cancer treatment each year.
Now is the time for the war on cancer to storm the fort!