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Concept: Cancer patient


Payment for health care services, including oncology services, is shifting from volume-based fee-for-service to value-based accountable care. The objective of accountable care is to support providers with flexibility and resources to reform care delivery, accompanied by accountability for maintaining or improving outcomes while lowering costs. These changes depend on health care payers, systems, physicians, and patients having meaningful measures to assess care delivery and outcomes and to balance financial incentives for lowering costs while providing greater value. Gaps in accountable care measure sets may cause missed signals of problems in care and missed opportunities for improvement. Measures to balance financial incentives may be particularly important for oncology, where high cost and increasingly targeted diagnostics and therapeutics intersect with the highly complex and heterogeneous needs and preferences of cancer patients. Moreover, the concept of value in cancer care, defined as the measure of outcomes achieved per costs incurred, is rarely incorporated into performance measurement. This article analyzes gaps in oncology measures in accountable care, discusses challenging measurement issues, and offers strategies for improving oncology measurement. Discern Health analyzed gaps in accountable care measure sets for 10 cancer conditions that were selected based on incidence and prevalence; impact on cost and mortality; a diverse range of high-cost diagnostic procedures and treatment modalities (e.g., genomic tumor testing, molecularly targeted therapies, and stereotactic radiotherapy); and disparities or performance gaps in patient care. We identified gaps by comparing accountable care set measures with high-priority measurement opportunities derived from practice guidelines developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and other oncology specialty societies. We found significant gaps in accountable care measure sets across all 10 conditions. For each gap, we searched for available measures not already being used in programs. Where existing measures did not cover gaps, we recommended refinements to existing measures or proposed measures for development. We shared the results of the measure gap analysis with a roundtable of national experts in cancer care and oncology measurement. During a web meeting and an in-person meeting, the roundtable reviewed the gap analysis and identified priority opportunities for improving measurement. The group determined that overreliance on condition-specific process measures is problematic because of rapidly changing evidence and increasing personalization of cancer care. The group’s primary recommendation for enhancing measure sets was to prioritize and develop effective cross-cutting measures that assess clinical and patient-reported outcomes, including shared decision making, care planning, and symptom control. The group also prioritized certain safety and structural measures to complement condition-specific process measures. Further, the group explored strategies for using clinical pathways and devising layered measurement approaches to improve measurement for accountable care. This article presents the roundtable’s conclusions and recommendations for next steps.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Health insurance, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Tumor, Cancer patient


Evidence suggests that a considerably large proportion of cancer patients are affected by treatment-related financial harm. As medical debt grows for some with cancer, the downstream effects can be catastrophic, with a recent study suggesting a link between extreme financial distress and worse mortality. At least three factors might explain the relationship between extreme financial distress and greater risk of mortality: 1) overall poorer well-being, 2) impaired health-related quality of life, and 3) sub-par quality of care. While research has described the financial harm associated with cancer treatment, little has been done to effectively intervene on the problem. Long-term solutions must focus on policy changes to reduce unsustainable drug prices and promote innovative insurance models. In the mean time, patients continue to struggle with high out-of-pocket costs. For more immediate solutions, we should look to the oncologist and patient. Oncologists should focus on the value of care delivered, encourage patient engagement on the topic of costs, and be better educated on financial resources available to patients. For their part, patients need improved cost-related health literacy so they are aware of potential costs and resources, and research should focus on how patients define high-value care. With a growing list of financial side effects induced by cancer treatment, the time has come to intervene on the “financial toxicity” of cancer care.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Tumor, Cancer patient, Finance, Debt



The number of cancer patients in Europe is rising and significant advances in basic and applied cancer research are making the provision of optimal care more challenging. The concept of cancer as a systemic, highly heterogeneous and complex disease has increased the awareness that quality cancer care should be provided by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of highly qualified healthcare professionals. Cancer patients also have the right to benefit from medical progress by receiving optimal treatment from adequately trained and highly skilled medical professionals. Built on the highest standards of professional training and continuing medical education, medical oncology is recognised as an independent medical specialty in many European countries. Medical oncology is a core member of the MDT and offers cancer patients a comprehensive and systemic approach to treatment and care, while ensuring evidence-based, safe and cost-effective use of cancer drugs and preserving the quality of life of cancer patients through the entire ‘cancer journey’. Medical oncologists are also engaged in clinical and translational research to promote innovation and new therapies and they contribute to cancer diagnosis, prevention and research, making a difference for patients in a dynamic, stimulating professional environment. Medical oncologists play an important role in shaping the future of healthcare through innovation and are also actively involved at the political level to ensure a maximum contribution of the profession to Society and to tackle future challenges. This position paper summarises the multifarious and vital contributions of medical oncology and medical oncologists to today’s and tomorrow’s professional cancer care.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Tumor, Cancer patient, Specialty


A palliative care physician helps a cancer patient cope with her coming death, while her oncologist struggles to give up treatment.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Physician, Hospice, Cancer patient, Nursing specialties


Outpatient palliative care clinics facilitate early referral and are associated with improved outcomes in cancer patients. However, appropriate candidates for outpatient palliative care referral and optimal timing remain unclear. We conducted a systematic review of the literature to identify criteria that are considered when an outpatient palliative cancer care referral is initiated.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Palliative care, Hospice, Cancer patient, Nursing specialties


Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Sexual concerns are prevalent in women with cancer or cancer history and are a factor in patient decision making about cancer treatment and risk-reduction options. Physical examination of the female cancer patient with sexual concerns, regardless of the type or site of her cancer, is an essential and early component of a comprehensive evaluation and effective treatment plan. Specialized practices are emerging that focus specifically on evaluation and treatment of women with cancer and sexual function problems. As part of a specialized evaluation, oncologists and their patients should expect a thorough physical examination to identify or rule out physical causes of sexual problems or dysfunction. This review provides oncology professionals with a description of the physical examination of the female cancer patient with sexual function concerns. This description aims to inform anticipatory guidance for the patient and to assist in interpreting specialists' findings and recommendations. In centers or regions where specialized care is not yet available, this review can also be used by oncology practices to educate and support health care providers interested in expanding their practices to treat women with cancer and sexual function concerns. CA Cancer J Clin 2016. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Patient, American Cancer Society, Cancer patient


Realistic illness understanding is essential to an advanced cancer patient’s ability to make informed medical decisions at the end of life. This study sought to determine whether advanced cancer patients better understood the late stage of their cancer if an oncologist, compared to other members of the care team, was present to discuss their scan results. Data were derived from a multi-institutional, longitudinal cohort study of patients recruited between 2010 and 2015. Patients (n = 209) with late-stage cancers (metastatic cancers that progressed after at least one chemotherapy regimen) were interviewed before and after clinic visits in which scan results were discussed. Patients reported pre- and postvisit if their cancer was at a late stage. Postvisit, patients reported if they discussed scan results with an oncologist or another oncology provider (i.e., oncology fellow, oncology resident, nurse practitioner, nurse, physician’s assistant, or other). Logistic regression analysis was used to determine if the presence of an oncologist during scan results discussions differentially predicted the patients' likelihood of postvisit late-stage illness understanding (LSIU). Propensity weighting was used to correct for sociodemographic imbalances between groups, and previsit LSIU and the presence of multiple providers were controlled for in the logistic regression analyses. After propensity-weighted adjustment and controlling for previsit LSIU and the presence of multiple providers, patients were 2.6 times more likely (AOR = 2.6; 95% CI = 1.2, 6.0; P = 0.021) to report that their disease was late stage if an oncologist was present for the scan results discussion compared to if an oncologist was absent. The presence of an oncologist during scan results discussions was associated with a higher likelihood of patients acknowledging being in a late stage of their disease. These results suggest that oncologist involvement in scan results discussions is associated with advanced cancer patients having better prognostic understanding.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Chemotherapy, Cancer patient


Although targeted sequencing improves outcomes for many cancer patients, it remains uncertain how somatic and germ-line whole-exome sequencing (WES) will integrate into care.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Cancer patient, Somatic cell


The value of community-based cancer research has long been recognized. In addition to the National Cancer Institute’s Community Clinical and Minority-Based Oncology Programs established in 1983, and 1991 respectively, the National Cancer Institute established the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program in 2007 with an aim of enhancing access to high-quality cancer care and clinical research in the community setting where most cancer patients receive their treatment. This article discusses strategies utilized by the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers Program to build research capacity and create a more entrenched culture of research at the community hospitals participating in the program over a 7-year period.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, Oncology, Hospital, Chemotherapy, Tumor, National Cancer Institute, Cancer patient