Cancer 2.0

Pete Celano, 29 October 2016book


Clifton Leaf was prescient in his book The Truth in Small Doses back in 2013.  He asked why we’re losing the cancer battle and how to find victory.

Mr. Leaf is an Editor at Fortune Magazine, and is a recipient of the Henry R. Luce Award for public service, the NIHCM’s Health Care Journalism Award and several leadership awards from leading patient organizations.

Now, in a Fortune essay, he says that the White House’s Cancer Moonshot Task Force— led by Vice President Joe Biden …

“… has done a remarkable job not only in framing the most substantive challenges of this quest, but in beginning to tackle some of them in earnest. Harnessing the power of huge amounts of data is part of the challenge. In one program that has gotten scant attention, for example, researchers are using advanced supercomputers at the Department of Energy’s National Labs to analyze more than half a million medical records from one of the largest research cohorts  in the world,  the Million Veteran Program—an effort that might identify novel biomarkers or otherwise shed light on the disease. The National Cancer Institute is likewise borrowing the DOE’s computational expertise for three more promising pilots. Yeah, it’s nice when government agencies play nicely together in the same sandbox.”

In that spirit, here’s my prescription for big healthcare, for converting the ever-present hype on new, “miracle” cancer treatments to a pragmatic reality of ongoing, ever better PFS:


  1. The gene and the exome– dig here.  Regarding Clinical Actionablity, you’re either part of the solution … or a spectator.
  2. Don’t dig alone as a system– there’s power in consortia.  Pennsylvania Example here.
  3. Deliver methodical personalization for the patient– and via scrupulous, clear and conspicuous patient consent, help worldwide oncology research by contributing to 1-n trusted databases that conflate genetic fingerprints and outcomes, including the financial implications thereof.

Genetics + Provider Collaboration + Really Big Data is the formula to converting the almost daily drumbeat of “exciting breakthrough cancer news” from the ephemerally anecdotal to the evidentiary mainstream.

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