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The Need for Equity in Cancer Care with Dr. William Cance


In this episode of the Real World Talk podcast, Emily Di Capua talks to Dr. William Cance, the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Cance and his colleagues are focused on fighting cancer and finding solutions to provide health care, especially cancer care, to underserved populations.


[00:04] Introduction — Emily Di Capua introduces Dr. William Cance, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society.

[01:43] Translational research — It is a direct application to the patient. As a practicing surgical oncologist, Dr. Cance deals with tumors daily. He is in operating rooms; he is close to patients, which allows him to study tumors directly. That way, he discovers what factors/proteins drive the tumors and work on ways to target; and effectively drug some of those proteins.

[02:47] The ACS’s 2035 challenge goals — To reduce cancer mortality. In terms of numbers, 40% reduction in cancer mortality in the period between 2015 and 2035. Goals include policy aspects through society’s advocacy network, research, and implementation in all 50 states.

[04:20] Health inequity and cancer care — The ACS fights against inequity in cancer care. The areas of concern include social-economic status, structural racism, and the global areas access.

[09:13] The role of patient navigators — A common thread between disparate populations is the need for navigation. As Dr. Cance explains, the ACS leads the navigation round table, where they bring in thought leaders of how to navigate patients from around the country, especially from underserved populations.

[11:42] Hospital systems and a patient navigator program — Before the pandemic, the ACS sponsored navigators in many health systems. Unfortunately, they had to cut back on that program because of COVID. Now, they are looking for different approaches, and one of the areas they are focused on is the federally qualified health centers FQHC.

[13:56] Return to screening — the ACS has just launched an initiative called a return to screening. It is a multifaceted program focused on getting people back to screening.

[19:02] The most promising technology innovations in oncology — Different approaches in blood-based screening and new therapeutics. Also, the improvements in how doctors perform radiation and advances in surgery. The immunotherapy technological innovations and innovations in the digital space.

[23:30] Real-world data and cancer care — The role of real-world data in cancer care is crucial. It influences drug development and success in clinical trials.

[25:58] Working with patients again — Dr. Cance is hoping to become an adjunct professor at Morehouse school of medicine and to do some operations at Grady hospital.

[27:15] Cancer care 50 years from now — It will be different, the doctor says. He believes treatments will be more efficient. Cancer will most likely turn into more of a chronic, manageable disease like diabetes.

Key Points

  • Injustice in healthcare is inhumane. The inequity in cancer care in disparate populations is a big concern to the American Cancer Society, the doctor says. The most critical areas of concern include social-economic status, structural racism, and the global areas access. ”So what is ACS doing about it? So in our field or around the country, we have hope lodges where people can stay during their cancer treatment if they live far away, and we offer rides to the treatment.”
  • Real-world data is crucial in cancer care. Several reasons are proving the importance of real-world data in cancer care, the doctor explains. ”Screening is one area where we certainly need real-world data.” It is also needed for establishing the best treatment regimen for every patient. A significant portion of real-world data also goes into drug development and trials. ”We want to get that in real-time, and there will need to be creative approaches to getting data and sharing data. Being able to get your electronic health record data and in a way that can be transmitted to other areas is so important.”
  • Cancer care will be different 50 years from now. Dr. Cance says science will understand a lot more at the molecular level. He also believes more effective treatments will be found. However, the doctor is not sure if there will be a cure for cancer. ”I believe that we can effectively cure cancers, but a global cure, the magic bullet that’s going to end it, I don’t believe it will be like that.” But, he also thinks cancer will turn into more of a chronic, manageable disease like diabetes.