It Started Back in 1998…
“In 1998, I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, a disease with a dire prognosis. Leading oncologists’ recommendations varied widely, so I set forth on a desperate quest for the treatment that would work best for me. Ultimately, an experimental treatment saved my life.” —Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, founder of Cancer Commons
While that treatment ultimately failed clinical testing, Marty was among the fortunate few who responded and survived. But that only raised more questions: Why did it work for him and not for others? Could his experience help similar patients find their best-possible treatments?
Known for his work in technology development and artificial intelligence, Marty saw that countless other patients could benefit from a better way to capture and share the world’s collective cancer knowledge. So, he created Cancer Commons—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides personalized treatment option reports to metastatic cancer patients, while learning from every patient to help others urgently seeking answers.
We’re Here to Help
Metastatic cancer is one of the most devastating experiences one can face. People with cancer may be overwhelmed and confused by their treatment options. Or, they’ve already tried several treatments, but nothing seems to work.
Cancer Commons is a network of patients, physicians, and scientists dedicated to helping people identify and access their—or their loved one’s—best-possible, personalized treatment plan. We draw on the most up-to-date research, insights from leading cancer experts, and outcomes from patients on treatments beyond the standard of care so those we serve can be confident they’ve left no stone unturned.
Our virtual, distributed approach enables us to reach anyone with internet access, so we can help patients of diverse backgrounds find cutting-edge treatments close to home.
Why We Go to Work Each Day
Many advanced cancer patients and their caregivers lack access to high quality cancer care, knowledge, and resources. They feel left alone to navigate a vast, complex sea of treatment information. While facing slim odds, they are asking themselves, “What now?”
These are the people we want to help each day.
We want to work together, across medical silos, and surface the best possible treatments for each patient with advanced cancer.
Cancer Commons brings together a team of nurse navigators, PhD scientists, physicians, and national experts, who combine compassion with deep scientific knowledge to help patients understand their disease and access their best treatment options.
We connect each patient with one of our scientists, who may:
- Review the patient’s medical history
- Research additional testing that could impact the patient’s treatment plan
- Identify clinical trial options available for the patient
- Investigate access to new or off-label treatments
- Obtain key insights from cancer experts through virtual tumor boards
Our goal is to equip patients with the knowledge they need to choose their best plan of action—all at no cost to them.
Cancer Commons helped give me peace of mind with my treatment decision. Chief scientist Emma Shtivelman’s expert, science-based opinion made such logical sense, and it also felt right in my soul.
Breast cancer patient
Thank you, Cancer Commons, for helping me find a new clinical trial.
The best part of cancer commons is timely access to a tumor board. It gives reassurance to the patient and family that the current treatment approach is correct and that other options are available.
Caregiver of a cancer patient
What if your doctor could know what everyone collectively knew?
Marty Tenenbaum, PhD
Founder of Cancer Commons
Emma not only helped me when I first reached out, but she continues to catch up with me and keep up with me. I consider her my friend.
Anal cancer patient
We focus on advanced cancer patients for whom the treatment data are particularly thin and the treatment success rate is particularly low.
- If a solution is known, we’ll find it. Our expert scientists help identify what is most likely to work best for each patient.
- If there's no known solution for a given patient, we'll help them find one. We search clinical trials and case studies for off-label drugs to identify novel treatments tailored to them.
- We continuously learn from every patient, sharing life-saving knowledge to benefit many others.
Meet the Team that Cares
Collectively, we have centuries of experience in oncology, medical technology, patient advocacy, artificial intelligence, and clinical research.
Erika Vial Monteverdi Executive Director
George Lundberg, MD Contributing Editor
Emma Shtivelman, PhD Chief Scientist
Shelley Frisbie Chief Financial Officer
Leslie Jared, RN, MSN Nurse Navigator
Julie Friedland, PhD Scientist
Lola Rahib, PhD Scientist
Martha Dehnow Contract Manager
Matt Warner, PhD Scientist
Masako Yokota Director of Administration
Shan Fowler Director of Institutional Giving
Sandy Noack Individual Giving Coordinator
Jackson Harvell Digital Strategy & Design
Sarah Stanley Science Writer
Filipe Dinis Designer
Sae Yamada Executive Assistant
Patrick van der Valk, MSc Head of Marketing
Why did we build a “Commons”?
Advanced cancer can be thought of as thousands of distinct diseases, and far more subtypes and potential treatments exist than can be tested in clinical trials. Patients who have exhausted standard options may receive off-label drugs or novel drug combinations, but their outcomes are rarely shared.
To solve this conundrum, we’re working with xCures and many other partners to build a commons platform—augmented by artificial intelligence and precision-oncology tests and services from others in our network—that enables the biomedical community to continuously learn from the experiences and outcomes of all patients. This shared knowledge can inform treatment of current and future patients, ultimately improving outcomes for all.
We’re already applying the Commons framework in collaborations that serve patients in key focus areas. Our mission is to be the center of wisdom for everyone with advanced cancer and serve at least 100,000 patients across all cancer types by 2025.
We welcome partnerships with other organizations and institutions who share our patient-centric philosophy. Whether you would like to refer patients with challenging cases to us, or offer your services to our patients, we want to hear from you.
Newest Expert Oncology Collaborators
Dr. David Chang
Associate Professor Of Surgery,
University of Glasgow
Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH
University of Cincinnati
Jean-Marie Stephan, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor,
Rush University Medical Center
Allyson Ocean, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine,
Weill Cornell Medicine
Shaalan Beg, MD
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Eric T. Wong, MD
Co-Director, Brain Tumor Center,
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Keeping Our Services Free
Cancer Commons is a nonprofit organization fueled by philanthropic donations. All our services are free. We are deeply grateful to our generous supporters, who enable us to help patients and caregivers through an extremely difficult time.
We invite you to join our family of supporters. If you have benefited from our services, we ask you to please consider paying it forward for the next patient.
Our Finger on the Pulse
From new clinical trial findings to remarkable patient stories, our expert team and distinguished guest contributors curate and report on the latest, most important developments in New Cancer Research & Perspectives. These stories provide valuable insights and hope for people on their own cancer journey.
When facing a new cancer diagnosis, some people ask their doctors, “What would you do if you were me?” Here, our Curious Dr. George asks Cancer Commons Expert Physician Advisor Christina Wu, MD, how she would handle her own diagnosis… Read more »
As a Cancer Commons Scientist, Lola Rahib, PhD, helps cancer patients and caregivers navigate treatment. Some of these patients receive a Cancer Commons Options Report. Here, our Curious Dr. George asks Dr. Rahib to share what goes into each Options… Read more »
Numerous patients come to Cancer Commons because they wonder if their best cancer treatment option may lie beyond standard care. For many patients, this will mean receiving treatment through a clinical trial. However, with the input and supervision of their… Read more »
Talk to Us
For help with your or your loved one’s personal cancer treatment plan, please contact us at HelpMe@CancerCommons.org. Or, call our Patient Hotline: 1-877-971-1200
To make a philanthropic gift, please reach out to Shan at Give@CancerCommons.org.
For partnerships and collaboration requests, contact Erika at Partners@CancerCommons.org.
For public relations and media requests, please contact Patrick at News@CancerCommons.org.
For all other inquiries, please email Info@CancerCommons.org.
650 Castro Street, Suite 120-522
Mountain View, CA 94041