Becoming a Model for Tackling the Cancer Burden
The last 2 weeks have brought with them some exciting news for NCI that has ramifications for the cancer community and our combined efforts to reduce the burden of cancer in the United States and beyond.
First, as detailed in this issue of the NCI Cancer Bulletin, the CEO Roundtable on Cancer received an important notice from the U.S. Department of Justice on the Roundtable's efforts to work with NCI to develop and promote "model language" for use in the contracts that govern clinical trials. This is an important achievement and I highly recommend you read the article.
The CEO Roundtable on Cancer is also at the heart of another exciting development: NCI's accreditation as a CEO Cancer Gold Standard organization. The Roundtable granted this status to NCI at its recent annual meeting, following many months of work by NCI staff to develop an application that met the Standard's requirements for aiding NCI employees and their families in taking actions in their personal healthcare to prevent cancer and ensure access to early detection through participation in screening programs and timely treatment, including participation in clinical trials.
The CEO Roundtable on Cancer is a nonprofit organization established in 2001. The vision of former President George H. W. Bush, the organization is composed of corporate executives from major American companies with a commitment to reducing the cancer burden.
There are several reasons why this designation is so significant. Chief among them is that NCI is the first federal entity to be named a Gold Standard organization. NCI now joins almost 30 organizations that collectively cover more than 500,000 people - including two NCI-designated Cancer Centers, several nonprofit organizations, and a host of private companies, many from the pharmaceutical and medical device industry - in making the profound and lasting commitment to enhance the health of its employees and their family members.
As the leader of the National Cancer Program, NCI is obligated to be a model for other organizations and companies, as well as other federal agencies. We must show that, even within the confines of the federal government, we can improve the well-being of our employees and their families by implementing the goals of the Gold Standard program.
Gold Standard companies must demonstrate, for example, that they have programs and policies in place to reduce the risk of cancer through lifestyle change and to enable early detection of cancer and access to the best available cancer treatment. This includes promoting and facilitating tobacco cessation, adoption of a healthy diet and regular physical activity, and access to recommended cancer screenings and, if cancer occurs, participation in clinical trials. NCI achieves these requirements through multiple mechanisms, including health benefits, active participation in the HealthierFeds program, and promotion of educational materials on prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Over the next few weeks, we will formally roll out NCI's Gold Standard program, including expanded availability to tobacco cessation programs for our employees and their families, and a proactive effort to find new ways to make adopting these lifestyle changes in the workplace easier.
In addition, as part of its ongoing efforts with the CEO Roundtable on Cancer, NCI, under the leadership of Dr. Robert Croyle and his staff in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, will aid in the development of metrics to help Gold Standard organizations measure the health impact of their efforts.
NCI's leadership is proud of this accomplishment and all it represents. Leading by example is never easy, but it is incumbent upon NCI to demonstrate the importance and value of tackling the cancer burden not just through research, but through the prudent actions that NCI-supported research has shown time and again can save lives.
Dr. John E. Niederhuber