Despite 2020 creating some of the most difficult circumstances of our lifetimes, it was a year of progress for Cancer Commons.
Cancer Commons’ Model Validated
Cancer Commons helps patients and their physicians collectively explore the latest and best treatment options far more efficiently than they can as individuals, often via a “molecular tumor board” model that precisely matches patients to personalized options. We recently received the best ever validation of our operating model.
According to a study published in Nature Communications and led by Cancer Commons advisor Razelle Kurzrock, MD , patients receiving care for advanced cancer based on recommendations of a molecular tumor board are more likely to survive or experience a longer period without disease progression. We remain dedicated to providing such services to patients who turn to Cancer Commons.
The Tsunami of Need
Long before COVID-19 changed the face of medical care, Cancer Commons built our processes around the existing fragmented healthcare system. We provide navigation services, research of personalized treatment options, and Virtual Tumor Board services to give patients a comprehensive plan that includes best treatment options, how to access those treatments, and monitoring over time. Our virtual, distributed approach helps patients receive advanced treatments close to home and ensures researchers can continue to get the data they need to validate novel treatments.
During the first months of the pandemic, many people put off seeking cancer diagnoses. This lull translated to steady, if slightly lower, numbers of new patients reaching out to Cancer Commons. It is now clear that what we experienced from March through July was equivalent to the sea receding before the coming of a tsunami. We are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of patients turning to us for help. In the last five months, Cancer Commons had 65% more patients contact us, compared to the same time last year. We are seeking ongoing support so that we can serve each and every one.
Shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, Cancer Commons’ patient questionnaire revealed that many faced new obstacles, such as changes to travel plans for treatment, delays of treatment to decrease risk of COVID-19 infection, and discontinuing pursuit of clinical trials. We immediately implemented personalized support to help relieve some patients’ anxiety about receiving treatment in the COVID-19 era.
We also spent the first months of the pandemic building and growing strategic collaborations with organizations and experts at the forefront of their specialties to expand our capacity to help advanced cancer patients while accelerating knowledge acquisition:
- Eric T. Wong, MD, of Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center joined Cancer Commons as the Medical Director for Brain Cancer. Under his direction, we established the Brain Cancer Commons Collaboration with the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research & Information.
- Shaalan Beg, MD, MSCS, of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center became Cancer Commons’ Medical Director for Pancreatic Cancer. Under his direction, we engaged in formal partnerships with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) and Let’s Win! Pancreatic Cancer in preparation to launch a Pancreatic Cancer Perpetual Trial.
- Cancer Commons patients who would otherwise not have access to tumor molecular profiling will be able to access this critical tool at no cost to them via our partnership with TEMPUS or PanCAN’s Know Your Tumor program.
- We are increasing outreach and providing potentially life-extending help to more patients by expanding our partnership with the American Cancer Society
- Cancer Commons sponsored a dedicated patient and advocate track at the 17th annual Precision Medicine World Conference, the world’s largest annual conference dedicated to precision medicine.
- Cancer Commons developed a new website that clearly articulates the value of our services and provides content to educate patients and physicians about valuable cancer treatment insights.
This past year, for the first time, Cancer Commons’ revenues surpassed the $2M threshold. This created the requirement—and the benefit—of conducting an independent audit. Our commitment to efficiency and transparency has earned Cancer Commons the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency.
What we’re doing for cancer patients would not be possible without the generosity of our supporters. We would be so grateful for your partnership in our efforts to make longer life expectancy and better quality of life more attainable for even the most vulnerable patients. And the need has never been greater than it is right now.
I hope you will consider an end-of-year gift to help Cancer Commons continue to serve the growing “tsunami” of patients now turning to us in desperate need. I also invite you to help me launch our brand-new online personal fundraising initiative by starting one of your own, in just a few easy steps: Create a Fundraiser
I am grateful for the Cancer Commons community, and I wish you the best for the holidays and the new year.