The Importance of Global Collaboration in Cancer Research
By Katy Winckworth-Prejsnar, Global Policy and Strategic Alliance Manager, NCCN

September 24th marks World Cancer Research Day, a global campaign to raise public awareness around the importance of cancer research. Over the last several decades, global investments in cancer research have led to significant scientific discoveries and therapeutic options that reduce cancer incidences, improve survival rates, and address quality of care among patients with cancer.

There is also a growing burden of cancer worldwide, especially in resource-limited settings. In 2018, the global cancer burden rose to 18.1 million new cases and 9.6 million deaths, making cancer the second-leading cause of death worldwide.[1] 75% of those deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. As a global health community, we must continue to promote the value and impact of cancer research, while emphasizing the importance of translating that evidence into accessible patient care.

As an alliance of 30 leading cancer centers, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is devoted to patient care, research, and education. World-renowned physicians and scientists from NCCN Member Institutions are involved in the full spectrum of cancer research and seek ways to lessen the burden of cancer on society. Moreover, the NCCN Oncology Research Program (ORP) strives to improve the quality of life for patients and reduce cancer-related deaths by advancing cancer treatment through basic, clinical, and translational research, as well as quality improvement initiatives.

In a recent op-ed, NCCN CEO, Dr. Robert Carlson urged the oncology community to work together to advance a more equitable and just system of cancer care, including in oncology research. A 2019 article in JAMA Oncology and a recent article in Annals of Internal Medicine highlight significant racial disparities in clinical trial participation in oncology, with Black and Hispanic patients consistently underrepresented compared with their burden of cancer incidence in the United States. We need solutions to improve racial representation in cancer research and strategies that build more trust and accessibility into the clinical trial participation process.

We must also prioritize the translation of cancer research advancements into clinical practice and education so that patients around the world receive the highest standard of cancer care possible. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) bridge the gap between research and patient care by providing the latest evidence and consensus from top multidisciplinary experts on almost every type of cancer, free of charge. Moreover, NCCN publishes various global clinical and patient resources to ensure that providers and patients have access to the most up-to-date standards in cancer care around the world.

Finally, we must continue to seek collective global partnerships and multilateralism that enable collaborative global advances in cancer research. NCCN recently spearheaded a letter—signed by leading cancer groups representing patients, researchers, and caregivers—urging reconsideration of the United States’ withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO). To continue the rapid progress of oncology research in the United States, it is essential that researchers have access to information provided by the WHO. This exchange of information directly benefits cancer patients, both domestically and internationally.

Achievements of science, technology, and discovery should extend beyond borders to democratize cancer care. As we celebrate World Cancer Research Day, let us continue to advocate for quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so that patients can live better lives.

About NCCN: The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of 30 leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. Through the leadership and expertise of clinical professionals at NCCN Member Institutions, NCCN develops resources that present valuable information to the numerous stakeholders in the health care delivery system. By defining and advancing high-quality cancer care, NCCN promotes the importance of continuous quality improvement and recognizes the significance of creating clinical practice guidelines appropriate for use by patients, clinicians, and other health care decision-makers around the world.

Learn more at www.nccn.org

[1] https://www.who.int/cancer/PRGlobocanFinal.pdf

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