The Daily Rise: Tuesday, May 17

Our Patient Declaration

Be sure to grab a copy of the May/June issue of Oncology Issues to read the latest piece by Terry Wilcox, our Co-Founder and Executive Director.

Terry explains why we’ve drafted a Patient Declaration, which clearly outlines what patients should know about and expect from all those helping them through their illness and disease. More than 11,000 patients have already signed this declaration, and our hope is that it will help ensure that “having health coverage means having access to healthcare.”

Specifically, our Patient Declaration advances these five principles:

  1. As a patient, I expect to be able to access the healthcare services I need.
  2. As a patient, healthcare decisions must remain between me and my doctor.
  3. As a patient, I will have access to my personal health information, and my health insurance company will be clear and transparent with me about their practices.
  4. As a patient, additional healthcare costs will be limited by my health insurance company.
  5. As a patient, I expect my healthcare coverage will treat me as an individual, not a policy number.

To find out more, read the entire piece. Then, sign the petition at PatientsRisingNow.org.

The Lazarus Effect

In a lengthy piece for the New York Times Magazine, Gareth Cook looks into the phenomenon where a small group of patients inexplicably respond to a treatment. Known as the “Lazarus Effect,” it’s been a source of hope and frustration for patients and researchers.

“Most clinical trials for cancer drugs are failures. But for a handful of patients, a drug proves to be nearly a cure,” Cook writes. “What can science learn from these ‘exceptional responders’?”

Two obvservations come to mind when reading this detailed piece. First, the “Lazarus Effect” is yet another circumstance that explains why new treatments take time and testing. Second, advances in precision medicine should help identify why some treatments work in these rare cases.

“The dream is to go much deeper, to give an oncologist a listing of all a tumor’s key mutations and their biological significance, making it possible to put aside the rough typology that currently reigns and understand each patient’s personal cancer,” Cook explains. “Every patient, in this future situation, could then be matched to the ideal treatment and, with luck, all responses would be exceptional.”

Mind Over Matter

MedicalNewsToday reports that cancer patients with depression are less likely to recover well after treatment.

The Macmillan Cancer Support and the University of Southampton studied more than 1,000 colorectal cancer patients treated at 29 hospitals in the United Kingdom. They found patients who have depression when they are diagnosed are significantly less likely to make a good recovery following surgery than patients without depression.

“We know that depression and anxiety often go hand in hand with cancer,” said Prof. Jane Maher, joint chief medical officer of Macmillan Cancer Support, “but now we can see the extent to which people are struggling to live with these illnesses.”

The takeaway point, according to researchers, is the “need to cater for each patient’s individual needs before, during, and long after their treatment has finished.”

On the Campaign Trail

Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News looks into the five health care topics that the 2016 presidential candidates “aren’t talking about – but should be.”

While Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump have tackled the subject of drug prices, Rovner says that “there is more involved in this issue than the prices paid by patients.”

“Drugmakers point out their industry is a risky one, and the big rewards on breakthrough drugs offset the losses for those that never make it to the pharmacy,” she explains. “Meanwhile, scientists are rapidly approaching the point of being able to develop specific drugs for specific individuals, a trend known as ‘personalized medicine’ or ‘precision medicine.’”

Finally! Yes, price is an important topic and impacts access to care. But, it’s far from the only issue of concern to patients. We need to prioritize innovation to develop new treatments for patients that are currently suffering and find ways to improve access to get every patient the right treatment.

Check out the entire piece to find out the four remaining topics that impact patients as they go to the polls this November.

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