Promising cancer research needs to be translated more quickly into practical methods of diagnosis and treatment, a presidential commission says.
Barriers exist at every step between the laboratory and a patient's bed, according to the report being released today. Unless those barriers are eased, "the national investment in cancer research will be tragically squandered," the President's Cancer Panel said, stating that "discoveries that do not lead to improved patient outcomes are tantamount to no discovery at all."
Yet the past two decades have produced "a biological revolution" bringing new insights into how cancer forms, said one member of the commission, Margaret Kripke, M.D., of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The challenge is to speed the translation of more of those insights into something doctors and patients can use. Aside from scientific challenges, one problem is that advances can take too long to reach patient care, said the panel's chairman, LaSalle Leffall Jr., M.D., of Howard University in Washington.
"If we don't get the information out, of what value is it to patients?" he asked.
Among the panel's recommendations:
Federal cancer officials had no immediate comment on the recommendations.
The three-member commission, which also included cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, provides periodic reports to the president on issues surrounding cancer research, incidence and care.