Cancer Treatment:

National Cancer Institute's Role in Encouraging the Use of Breakthroughs

PEMD-89-4BR: Published: Oct 20, 1988. Publicly Released: Nov 21, 1988.

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Michael J. Wargo
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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the role that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) plays in promoting physicians' utilization of breakthroughs in cancer therapies.

GAO found that: (1) problems existed at many points in the process that breakthrough treatments take to reach cancer patients; (2) NCI had difficulties in coordinating its position on recommended treatments, so that physicians sometimes received many or conflicting responses to requests for advice on treatments; (3) NCI efforts at disseminating information on new treatments to physicians had limited success; and (4) many cancer patients did not receive what NCI considered state-of-the-art treatment because physicians often did not adopt treatments even after they received information concerning them.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No congressional action is anticipated.

    Matter: Congressional committees that are concerned about efforts to promote the adoption of cancer treatment advances may want to consider steps to specifically mandate federal action. This could include directing NCI, or some other office created for this purpose, to undertake efforts to clearly identify and promote the use of cancer therapies that have been sufficiently proven to warrant being classified as recommended treatments.


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