The effect of cancer on American life is enormous - on average, 1.6 million individuals are diagnosed with cancer every year in the United States. However, some regions in the United States fare worse than others. Relative to residents of more urban centers, rural Americans face serious disadvantages related to socioeconomic deprivation, all of which limit access to quality healthcare and multiply cancer risk factors.
Cancer researchers generally acknowledge that early detection and screening vastly improves patient outcomes by enabling care to be provided at early stages. Knowing this and wanting to explore deeper, the National Cancer Institute held a series of workshops in 2019 on cancer [early] detection and screening. Those workshops made evident that the National Cancer Institute alone could not design, develop, and maintain comprehensive cancer diagnostic platforms that could be brought closer to patients than ever before.
As such, a new interagency task force was developed, charged to work with the public and private sectors to begin identifying gaps and opportunities in cancer diagnostics. This Task Force, the Cancer Diagnostic Devices Interagency Task Force [CD2 Interagency Task Force], includes staff from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to focus on near-patient use and address unmet needs among geographically isolated, medically underserved, and otherwise vulnerable communities. In October 2020, the Task Force convened a workshop with representatives from academia, industry, and several other federal agencies that led to a publication of findings and recommendations. Click here to see the summary report.
The activities of this Task Force support the public health by assuring that patients and providers have timely and continuous access to safe, effective, and high-quality tests for cancer diagnostics. Through this Task Force, each agency is able to leverage complementary missions, capabilities, resources, and expertise to gain a deeper understanding of cancer disparities and formulate multipronged solutions to address them.
To cement the long-term support of the Task Force, the NCI, FDA and HRSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2021 , with possibly others joining in the future. This Memorandum of Understanding fosters research and education, and the exchange of ideas and information, all in the name of developing and validating cancer screening and diagnostic devices for near-patient use, particularly benefitting rural and other medically underserved communities.