Ruesch Center Hosts Symposium on Value in Cancer Care

March 1, 2012

John L. Marshall, MD, seeks to generate a national conversation on the value of cancer care to pave the way for new treatments—in particular for gastrointestinal cancers.

The escalating cost of cancer medicines—and how treatment can
be made more cost-effective—was the main focus of discussion at a three-day Georgetown symposium held Dec. 1–3.

The symposium, “Fighting a Smarter War Against Cancer: Linking Policy to
the Patient,” was sponsored by The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, in collaboration with Georgetown University Law Center and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business.

Organized by John Marshall, MD, head of hematology and oncology at
Georgetown Lombardi and Ruesch Center director, the program convened perspectives from the federal government, regulatory agencies, private insurance industry, biotechnology companies, patient advocacy
groups and practicing physicians.

Marshall hopes the three-day event will help catalyze a frank national conversation around the value of cancer medicine. 

“Evidence-based medicine does not equate with highly effective medicine. We need a new standard for new therapies—one that incorporates the magnitude of benefit and value. I believe we can fight a smarter war on cancer,” Marshall says.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a 1966 alumnus of the Law Center who served for nearly a quarter century on the National Institutes of Health’s labor subcommittee, opened the symposium. Hoyer said the federal government’s current budgetary crisis highlights the critical need to take a
harder look at the value and effectiveness of cancer therapies.

David Kerr, MD, DSc, who has advised two British prime ministers on health care policy and who helped reform the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, delivered the Schafer Memorial Lecture, an endowed annual lectureship established by the family and friends of the late Thomas Schafer, who died of pancreatic cancer.

The event culminated with a Saturday morning program specifically for patients and caregivers titled “Navigating Cancer Care: What Every Patient Should Know.”A lineup of Georgetown faculty and caregivers presented on topics ranging from genetic risk of cancer to nutrition to how to handle insurance companies.

This is the third symposium sponsored by the Ruesch Center, which was founded in 2009 to focus attention on curing all gastrointestinal cancers.

Written By: Lauren Wolkoff
Georgetown Lombardi Communications