On July 25, a group of colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors, patient advocates, and life-science professionals met—convened by advocacy group Fight CRC—to discuss opportunities for stakeholders to improve access to treatment and screening in the US. Joined by White House Cancer Moonshot Coordinators, the assembly is part of the answer to the Biden administration’s call to strengthen the response to cancers; this meeting’s agenda included discussing ways to work together to amplify and engage efforts during March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
“We want to save lives,” said Anjee Davis, president of Fight CRC. “We want to increase colorectal cancer screenings, and we believe that we can provide access for everyone if we think innovatively. The US can lead the way and implement best practices, not only for those who are eligible for screening but also for the early-age onset community; this meeting at the White House was the first step.”
As part of the reignited Cancer Moonshot effort, US first lady Jill Biden announced a challenge to professionals involved in cancer screening to fuel progress on the estimated 10m cancer screenings missed in the US as a result of the pandemic. In the hopes of hitting this target, Fight CRC gathered a workgroup of patient advocacy and business leaders, leveraging their common mission of increasing CRC screening; the meeting reportedly marks the beginning of an ongoing conversation among the group, the White House, and federal agencies.
The group centered discussion on three initiatives:
- CRC education and awareness as part of Jill Biden’s cancer screening messaging efforts
- comprehensive CRC screening solutions supporting current screening tools, enabling the workgroup to reach underserved communities
- building on previous successes of the CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP).
“This is a disease that’s preventable and treatable,” said Paula Chambers Raney, stage I CRC survivor and Fight CRC advocate. “It was so exciting to be in the room with policymakers, advocacy organizations, and companies who make the screening tests; these are the people who have the power to make changes to the way people are screened and to bring access to everyone in all communities.
“There are so many screening options available now compared with seven years ago when I was diagnosed; there is innovation out there,” Chambers Raney added. “There is so much data that exists now. There is a reason for hope. This makes me even more excited to advocate.”
Participants at the White House meeting include:
- Carolyn “Bo” Aldigé – founder, Prevent Cancer Foundation
- Andrew Barnell, CEO/co-founder, Geneoscopy
- Daniel Bloomgarden, board member, Fight CRC
- Danielle Carnival, coordinator, White House Cancer Moonshot
- Austin Chiang, chief medical officer of gastrointestinal, Medtronic
- Kevin Conroy, CEO/chairman, Exact Sciences
- Erin Darbouze, health policy manager, Fight CRC
- Anjee Davis, president, Fight CRC
- Richard Goldberg, board member, Fight CRC
- Greg Hamilton, CEO, Epigenomics
- Lisa Lacasse, president, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)
- David Lieberman, former president, American Gastroenterological Association
- Molly McDonnell, director of advocacy, Fight CRC
- Arif Nathoo, CEO/co-founder, Komodo Health
- Angela Nicholas, board chair, Fight CRC
- Mike Nolan, CEO, Freenome
- Paula Chambers Raney, survivor/advocate, Fight CRC
- AmirAli Talasaz, CEO/cofounder, Guardant Health
- Catharine Young, assistant director for Cancer Moonshot Engagement and Policy
Various stakeholders brought different perspectives and resources to the table; for example, Komodo Health offered real-world-evidence (RWE) technology to help pinpoint communities where screening is most needed, advance more proactive research, and more.
“We’re proud to support the President’s Cancer Moonshot Initiative, and deepen the industry’s understanding of exactly when, where, and how patients experience disparities in care,” said Nathoo. “We must take a data-driven approach to developing policies that improve healthcare equity and drive better outcomes for all.”