by Jeremy Katz
We are entering a new era of cancer treatment. The steady progress medicine has made in reducing the overall mortality of this disease—one so dreaded that people feared to utter its name lest they conjure the condition—is likely to accelerate in the years ahead. As ample funding meets burgeoning breakthroughs and broader, better screening, the decades-long war on cancer is taking a significant toll on the disease. What was once a six-letter death sentence may one day turn into a chronic condition.
Lovely though this vision may be, it is not assured. Oncology is at a crossroads. The cost to end the scourge of cancer is enormous, while the people necessary to accomplish this feat are both unhappy and in short supply. Despite overall improvements, individual outcomes remain stubbornly unequal as is representation, and our own behaviors are fueling cancer’s pervasiveness.
The path society will now take on cancer depends on governments and private organizations, payers and patients, innovators and physicians. Communicators, too. After all, the next battles in the war on cancer won’t just be fought in clinical environments. They’ll also continue to be waged in regulatory committees, between patient advocates and drug approvers, and among payers, insurers, and physicians. If we are to emerge from this crossroads on the best possible path, we must ensure that every party to the healthcare system has a forum, a voice, and the means to exchange ideas.
Brands will play a crucial part here. Their multifaceted roles—researchers, marketers, salespeople, advocates, and educators—mean that they can have an outsized impact on the future of oncology. The most powerful and most beneficial effects will require brands and those that work with them to collaborate with everyone from oncology researchers to behavioral scientists, from business leaders to visionaries, policymakers, advocates, and culture-makers. This approach is the future of healthcare in general and oncology in particular.
Cancer care is at an inflection point. The decisions we make now will determine what oncology care is like, not just now but a decade in the future. This is our moment to make an impact.
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