ASTRO leadership visits White House to participate in Vice President’s cancer moonshot event
Society continues to encourage inclusion of radiation oncology in strategic planning for the initiative and applauds collaborative efforts with industry and government
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 18, 2016 – Leadership from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) participated in an event at the White House yesterday hosted by Vice President Joe Biden, who released a report outlining the Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s (CMI) progress to date and roadmap for its four remaining years. Former Chair of ASTRO’s Board of Directors Bruce G. Haffty, MD, FASTRO, attended on behalf of the Society following months of encouragement by ASTRO for the initiative to broaden its focus and integrate radiation oncology more fully into the moonshot effort.
“In the past year, the Vice President’s moonshot initiative has brought critical attention to the need for greater collaboration and innovation in cancer research, and we are invigorated at the prospect of radiation oncology being an instrumental component of future progress,” said Dr. Haffty.
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiation therapy at some point in their treatment, and radiation therapy has been a safe, effective and powerful method of fighting cancer for more than 100 years. Federal funding for research in radiation oncology, however, remains well below the level of funding for other therapeutic modalities. ASTRO, whose members include nearly all practicing radiation oncologists in the United States, supports the CMI goal of working toward an integrated approach to advancing cancer research. Encompassing the full range of multidisciplinary approaches to cancer care is essential to achieve the accelerated progress that hallmark of the initiative’s design.
The Cancer Moonshot Task Force report issued today charts the initiative’s progress and announces several promising new efforts to support CMI goals, including collaborative research projects to explore the biological bases of cancer and partnerships with industry to increase affordable transportation options for cancer patients undergoing treatment. The report also maps out strategy for the initiative’s remaining years, including reforms to financial support structures that would broaden access for non-traditional research approaches and ensure equitable access to the highest quality care across all corners of the socioeconomic spectrum.
“Moving forward, we must maintain the focus on advancing both the science and practice of cancer care while aligning our efforts to move Congress to authorize the $700 million requested by the President for cancer research initiatives. Substantial, predictable financial support is essential to sustain the fight to eradicate cancer,” said Dr. Haffty.
ASTRO has encouraged leaders of the moonshot initiative to include radiation oncology in discussions and partnerships since the effort was first announced in President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address. In January and February, ASTRO pledged its support of the initiative and its inclusion in the President’s FY2017 budget. In April, ASTRO leadership met with Greg Simon, Executive Director of the CMI, to discuss the important role for radiation oncology in the moonshot. In May, nearly 100 ASTRO members convened on Capitol Hill to encourage members of Congress to invest in cancer research. In June, Dr. Haffty and Tim Williams, MD, FASTRO, also a former Chair of ASTRO, participated in the Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C., and ASTRO concurrently held a virtual summit via Twitter to gather and discuss research ideas, many of which were submitted to the National Cancer Institute through its Cancer Research Ideas portal. In September, ASTRO leadership submitted a letter to Simon expressing its concern that only a single radiation oncologist was included in any of the Blue Ribbon Panel working groups and recommending that the Panel’s final recommendations more fully discuss the role of radiation therapy in combination therapy.
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ASTRO is the premier radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who are physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals that specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through professional education and training, support for clinical practice and health policy standards, advancement of science and research, and advocacy. ASTRO publishes three medical journals, International Journal of Radiation Oncology • Biology • Physics (www.redjournal.org), Practical Radiation Oncology (www.practicalradonc.org) and Advances in Radiation Oncology (www.advancesradonc.org); developed and maintains an extensive patient website, RT Answers (www.rtanswers.org); and created the Radiation Oncology Institute (www.roinstitute.org), a nonprofit foundation to support research and education efforts around the world that enhance and confirm the critical role of radiation therapy in improving cancer treatment. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.