Public Health

Making Progress in Cancer Diagnostics: Clinical Practice and Policy

December 10, 2020  • Health, Medicine and Society Program

Cancer deaths are down nearly 30% over the last three decades. Some of the progress is due to public health advances, like reductions in smoking. But it also reflects therapeutic advances that take advantage of an evolving molecular understanding of the disease.

Yet cancer remains the nation’s second most deadly disease, accounting for perhaps 600,000 deaths this year alone. Worrisome disparities by race and socioeconomic status persist. Black Americans and rural residents are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at advanced stages and die from the disease. In America today, the color of one’s skin and where one lives are important predictors of cancer outcomes.

These challenges raise the question: could innovation in cancer screening narrow these persistent gaps? New evidence is emerging on blood-based multicancer tests that discover disease earlier and more broadly than current screening methods, and lead to diagnosis before it spreads. A single blood test that detects scores of cancers at once could significantly improve population screening rates.

But will Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance be ready to pay for these novel blood tests? Will the infrastructure be in place to overcome persistent racial disparities that may inhibit access? Will general practitioners adopt these tests as a tool to find cancers early when they are most treatable? How do we ensure follow-up treatment for people testing positive is available and that those costs are covered? If used, will these tests be the potent new weapon that helps us finally win the long war against cancer?

Join the Health, Medicine and Society Program of the Aspen Institute and the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics for an expert webinar on new clinical advances in cancer screening and prevention and the policy issues surrounding access to and adoption of these advances by clinicians, payers, and public officials.

https://healthpolicy.usc.edu/events/making-progress-in-cancer-diagnostics-clinical-practice-and-policy/