Survivorship-Care Programs Pick Up Where Cancer Treatment Leaves Off

Thanks in part to improvements in cancer treatment, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing. Even after overcoming cancer, however, survivors still face numerous challenges. The cancer may return, so regular monitoring is needed. In addition, cancer treatments can damage organs or impair attention and memory. Cancer also takes an emotional toll; many cancer survivors experience depression or anxiety. Increasingly, hospitals and nonprofit groups are offering survivorship-care programs that provide treatment follow-up plans, physical rehabilitation, and psychological assistance. The Commission on Cancer, which accredits cancer centers in the U.S., will require these centers to provide survivorship-care plans starting in 2015. Moreover, a congressional committee is currently considering a bill that would require Medicare to cover care-planning services for cancer survivors.


Survivorship-Care Programs Pick Up Where Cancer Treatment Leaves Off

Thanks in part to improvements in cancer treatment, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing. Even after overcoming cancer, however, survivors still face numerous challenges. The cancer may return, so regular monitoring is needed. In addition, cancer treatments can damage organs or impair attention and memory. Cancer also takes an emotional toll; many cancer survivors experience depression or anxiety. Increasingly, hospitals and nonprofit groups are offering survivorship-care programs that provide treatment follow-up plans, physical rehabilitation, and psychological assistance. The Commission on Cancer, which accredits cancer centers in the U.S., will require these centers to provide survivorship-care plans starting in 2015. Moreover, a congressional committee is currently considering a bill that would require Medicare to cover care-planning services for cancer survivors.


Survivorship-Care Programs Pick Up Where Cancer Treatment Leaves Off

Thanks in part to improvements in cancer treatment, the number of cancer survivors is steadily increasing. Even after overcoming cancer, however, survivors still face numerous challenges. The cancer may return, so regular monitoring is needed. In addition, cancer treatments can damage organs or impair attention and memory. Cancer also takes an emotional toll; many cancer survivors experience depression or anxiety. Increasingly, hospitals and nonprofit groups are offering survivorship-care programs that provide treatment follow-up plans, physical rehabilitation, and psychological assistance. The Commission on Cancer, which accredits cancer centers in the U.S., will require these centers to provide survivorship-care plans starting in 2015. Moreover, a congressional committee is currently considering a bill that would require Medicare to cover care-planning services for cancer survivors.


Compassionate Use of Unapproved Drugs Raises Difficult Ethical Issues

Patients with terminal illnesses, including late-stage cancer patients, are understandably eager to try still-unapproved experimental drugs once other options have been exhausted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently created a program to make it easier for drug companies to grant ‘compassionate use,’ which allows patients in extraordinary need access to otherwise unauthorized treatments. However, the decision to dispense experimental drugs is left to the companies, which are often reluctant to take this risky step. Experimental drugs are just that–experimental; they may have catastrophic side effects or simply not work. When these drugs are given outside the framework of a well-designed clinical trial, it becomes impossible to decisively judge whether they actually work. And if all patients could bypass clinical trials, there would be no incentive for anyone to enroll in these clinical trials, meaning that new drugs would never be properly studied and approved. Compassionate use therefore needs to be approved by experienced medical professionals on a case-by-case basis, and remain an option of last resort only.


Compassionate Use of Unapproved Drugs Raises Difficult Ethical Issues

Patients with terminal illnesses, including late-stage cancer patients, are understandably eager to try still-unapproved experimental drugs once other options have been exhausted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently created a program to make it easier for drug companies to grant ‘compassionate use,’ which allows patients in extraordinary need access to otherwise unauthorized treatments. However, the decision to dispense experimental drugs is left to the companies, which are often reluctant to take this risky step. Experimental drugs are just that–experimental; they may have catastrophic side effects or simply not work. When these drugs are given outside the framework of a well-designed clinical trial, it becomes impossible to decisively judge whether they actually work. And if all patients could bypass clinical trials, there would be no incentive for anyone to enroll in these clinical trials, meaning that new drugs would never be properly studied and approved. Compassionate use therefore needs to be approved by experienced medical professionals on a case-by-case basis, and remain an option of last resort only.


Compassionate Use of Unapproved Drugs Raises Difficult Ethical Issues

Patients with terminal illnesses, including late-stage cancer patients, are understandably eager to try still-unapproved experimental drugs once other options have been exhausted. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently created a program to make it easier for drug companies to grant ‘compassionate use,’ which allows patients in extraordinary need access to otherwise unauthorized treatments. However, the decision to dispense experimental drugs is left to the companies, which are often reluctant to take this risky step. Experimental drugs are just that–experimental; they may have catastrophic side effects or simply not work. When these drugs are given outside the framework of a well-designed clinical trial, it becomes impossible to decisively judge whether they actually work. And if all patients could bypass clinical trials, there would be no incentive for anyone to enroll in these clinical trials, meaning that new drugs would never be properly studied and approved. Compassionate use therefore needs to be approved by experienced medical professionals on a case-by-case basis, and remain an option of last resort only.


Sharing Clinical Trial Data: Benefits and Concerns

Policymakers and regulatory agencies are increasingly pushing for more public access to clinical trial information. Requiring clinical trial sponsors to be more transparent about their findings would provide greater accountability and discourage unethical trial practices, suppression or selective reporting of results, or misleading analyses. Data sharing would also prevent unnecessary duplication of studies. However, disclosing clinical trial data also risks compromising the privacy of trial participants. Moreover, making a sponsor’s trial data freely available could give unfair advantages to competitors, who could potentially use the data without incurring the cost of producing it. This may discourage companies from performing trials altogether. Clinical trial data sharing therefore needs to incorporate reasonable safeguards for participant privacy and companies’ intellectual property.


Sharing Clinical Trial Data: Benefits and Concerns

Policymakers and regulatory agencies are increasingly pushing for more public access to clinical trial information. Requiring clinical trial sponsors to be more transparent about their findings would provide greater accountability and discourage unethical trial practices, suppression or selective reporting of results, or misleading analyses. Data sharing would also prevent unnecessary duplication of studies. However, disclosing clinical trial data also risks compromising the privacy of trial participants. Moreover, making a sponsor’s trial data freely available could give unfair advantages to competitors, who could potentially use the data without incurring the cost of producing it. This may discourage companies from performing trials altogether. Clinical trial data sharing therefore needs to incorporate reasonable safeguards for participant privacy and companies’ intellectual property.


Sharing Clinical Trial Data: Benefits and Concerns

Policymakers and regulatory agencies are increasingly pushing for more public access to clinical trial information. Requiring clinical trial sponsors to be more transparent about their findings would provide greater accountability and discourage unethical trial practices, suppression or selective reporting of results, or misleading analyses. Data sharing would also prevent unnecessary duplication of studies. However, disclosing clinical trial data also risks compromising the privacy of trial participants. Moreover, making a sponsor’s trial data freely available could give unfair advantages to competitors, who could potentially use the data without incurring the cost of producing it. This may discourage companies from performing trials altogether. Clinical trial data sharing therefore needs to incorporate reasonable safeguards for participant privacy and companies’ intellectual property.