Improved Patient Access: ASTRO’s Commitment to the National Cancer Plan
Jeff M. Michalski, M.D., M.B.A., FASTRO
Chair, ASTRO Board of Directors
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) strongly embraces the National Cancer Plan goals. With over 10,000 members, ASTRO’s vision is to improve the lives of people with cancer using radiation therapy. More than a million Americans receive radiation treatments for cancer each year, and radiation therapy contributes to 40% of global cancer cures. Our strategic plan aligns with the National Cancer Plan goals, and we are committed to President Biden’s vision of reducing cancer mortality by 50% over the next 25 years.
Examples of our alignment with the National Cancer Plan goals include:
Develop Effective Treatments: Radiation therapy’s efficacy has been proven for over 100 years. As our technology has improved, we can better target each cancer and deliver precise doses to tumors while sparing nearby organs. In the last five years, many clinical trials support shorter courses of radiation, including for common diseases like prostate and breast cancers.
Engage Every Person: ASTRO supports the goal that every person with cancer or at risk for cancer has an opportunity to participate in research or otherwise contribute to the collective knowledge base. Our October 2023 Annual Meeting theme was Paying it Forward: Partnering with our Patients, and our Presidential Symposium explored future directions for clinical trials domestically and globally with a focus on prioritizing each patient.
Eliminate Inequities: Shorter treatment courses help eliminate inequities, as transportation and time away from work are the most common barriers to patients receiving these life-saving treatments. Our Radiation Oncology Case Rate (ROCR) proposal will help reduce disparities by helping underserved patients have better access to care and offer wrap-around services to ensure they complete their cancer treatments.
Deliver Optimal Care: ASTRO designs evidence-based guidelines, often in collaboration with other oncologic specialties, to ensure patients receive optimal care anywhere in the world. ASTRO also offers a practice accreditation program, APEx - Accreditation Program for Excellence®, to help ensure that radiation oncology centers have policies and procedures in place to promote high-quality safe patient care wherever a patient may be getting treatment.
ASTRO is proud to support the President’s Cancel Panel in their effort to monitor progress toward the goals of the National Cancer Plan, and we look forward to working with our colleagues around the world to meet these ambitious but attainable goals.