State administrators, health care providers and researchers gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday to work on building a comprehensive plan to do battle with cancer in Pennsylvania.
The five-year plan is required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Nancy Davidson said the plan is being built with the center’s input.
Davidson said the group is using the standards put forward by the CDC to set the tone, but she stressed that it is Pennsylvania’s plan, not the CDC’s plan.
“Anybody and everybody who is vested in the problem of cancer is here,” Davidson said.
That included Pennsylvania Department of Health Acting Director Michael Wolf.
“It is a very hefty agenda,” Wolf said. “It is looking at how do we do everything from treatment to possible prevention to health system interventions.”
Davidson said the group is extremely optimistic that the state can control cancer and that a flexible and dynamic plan can be adopted and implemented.
“The science has really helped to inform cancer care, (and) we think that the institution of the Affordable Care Act provides a wonderful foundational platform to apply some of the things,” Davidson said.
The group is looking at several focus areas for the plan including the reduction of cancer health disparity for several groups, using evidence-based interventions in the future and making sure any programs created under the plan can be sustained.
Davidson has come to see cancer as one of the “dominant illness of our time” thanks to some of the inroads made in other public health concerns.
“We are in a position to really try to think about it as a chronic disease to try to decrease incidence and to try to build the opportunity for patients to live with cancer if they cannot live without cancer,” Davidson said.
She said the best way to beat cancer is to not develop it in the first place, so prevention must also be a key part of the plan.
Wolf told those in attendance that he will also be working on finding ways to make sure the outcomes are measured and tracked to make sure progress is being made over the life of the plan.