NCI Outlines Strategies to End Ca Death by 2015

May 1, 2006

In early 2003, NCI director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, set the Institute's goal as eliminating the suffering and death caused by cancer by 2015, and he challenged his staff to produce the strategies needed to do just that. Now, the Institute has published the NCI Strategic Plan, which outlines the paths it plans to follow to reach its 2015 objective.

BETHESDA, Maryland—In early 2003, NCI director Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, set the Institute's goal as eliminating the suffering and death caused by cancer by 2015, and he challenged his staff to produce the strategies needed to do just that. Now, the Institute has published the NCI Strategic Plan, which outlines the paths it plans to follow to reach its 2015 objective.

The 81-page report focuses on two primary efforts—preempting cancer at every opportunity and ensuring the best outcome for every cancer patient—and it lists four strategies for each that NCI will pursue. The plan is the result of some 15 months of investigation and deliberation by about 125 NCI scientists, which resulted in the identification of nearly 200 possible strategic goals, and the culling of them to the final eight by the NCI Executive Committee after consultations with the Institute's staff and advisory boards, as well as extramural researchers and advocacy groups.

"Simply put, this plan brings the global picture of cancer research—SPORES, Cancer Centers, individual laboratory and clinical investigators, consortiums, and advanced technologies—into a tight focus," said NCI chief operating officer John E. Niederhuber, MD. "It will direct our efforts and ensure that, regardless of where a research program or project falls in the discovery-development-delivery continuum, it contributes to seamless, integrated, and continuous progress."

Strategies for Preemption

The four strategies aimed at preempting cancer are:

Understand the causes and mechanisms of the disease. NCI will conduct and support work in basic, clinical, and population research with the aim of gaining deep insights into the genetic, epigenetic, environmental, behavioral, and sociocultural factors that influence cancer, as well as the biological mechanisms underlying cancer resistance, susceptibility, initiation, regression, progression, and recurrence.

Accelerate progress in cancer prevention. NCI will seek to hasten the discovery, development, and delivery of cancer prevention interventions through research on systems biology, behavior modification, environmental and policy influences, medical and nutritional approaches, and the training and education of scientists and health professionals.

Improve early detection and diagnosis. NCI will support the development and dissemination of new ways to detect and diagnose early-stage cancers.

Develop effective and efficient treatments. This effort emphasizes the development and distribution of treatments that destroy all cancer cells or modulate and control metastasis with minimal harm to healthy tissue.

Outcomes Strategies

To ensure the best outcomes for all cancer patients, NCI will focus on:

Understanding factors that influence cancer outcomes. The Institute will focus on understanding and improving the measurement of the environmental, behavioral, sociocultural, and economic influences that affect the quality of cancer care, survivorship, and health disparities.

Improving the quality of cancer care. NCI will support the development and dissemination of quality-improvement interventions and measure their success in health-related outcomes across the cancer continuum.

Improving the quality of life for patients, survivors, and their families. This strategy aims at interventions to reduce the adverse effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment, and to improve health-related outcomes.

Overcoming cancer health disparities. The Institute will support the identification of the factors that contribute to disparities and the development and distribution of culturally appropriate interventions, from disease prevention to end-of-life care.

To download a PDF of the NCI Strategic Plan or to order a free copy, go to strategicplan.nci.nih.gov.