December 15th 2010
The number of cancer patients and cancer survivors continues to increase rapidly amid predictions of a shortfall in physicians to care for them. In addition, newer cancer therapies have become increasingly complex and resource-intensive, compounding the impending workforce shortage. Simultaneously, the growing understanding of the biologic heterogeneity of cancer and the development of pharmacogenomics have opened up the possibility of personalized approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Such personalization has been promulgated as a means of decreasing the cost of drug development, improving the efficacy of treatments, and reducing treatment toxicity. Although there have been notable successes, the fulfillment of these promises has been inconsistent. Providing care for future cancer patients will require the development of innovative delivery models. Moreover, new approaches to clinical research design, to the assessment of therapeutic value, and to the approval of and reimbursement for diagnostics and treatments are needed.