What will cancer care look like in the future? Will we be living in a world without fear of cancer? We are convinced that we will, and that furthermore, this will be the case regardless of where in the world we live – whether in Armidale or central Sydney. The question is: How can we get there?
At Varian we provide cancer treatment technology and services around the world, which focus on developments that have the potential to expand the availability of high-quality cancer care globally, in order to achieve our vision of a world without fear of cancer.
But what does this mean concretely? Travel with us into that future, to 2045. Imagine Bev Spokes from Armidale who has been diagnosed with a very early stage cancer based on a simple, and therefore easily accessible, blood test. This cancer is caught long before the patient experienced a single physical symptom. Bev’s prognosis, therefore, is excellent.
Bev’s journey now continues with her Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Team (MDT). The primary care physician in Armidale is part of this team, and the other members are geographically disbursed and linked together through virtual collaboration tools that enable real-time and asynchronous consultation. This way, the team can include experts from anywhere in the world.
The MDT members have access, thanks to judicious application of artificial intelligence, to vast reams of data on treatment outcomes. They are also armed with specific, personal information about the genomics at play for example, abnormalities in Bev’s genes that point toward a particular treatment approach over other options.
Using all these inputs, the MDT puts together a comprehensive roadmap showing all the possible personalised treatment options. With all the available treatment options clearly delineated, the team works with the Bev to create a personalised treatment plan that best fits her specific situation both anatomically and biologically.
Let’s further imagine that Bev and her MDT determine that the treatment will include a course of radiation therapy. By that time, some 25 years in the future, radiation therapy technology will be much more widely accessible. Even today, Varian’s latest radiation therapy systems are greatly simplified, automated, and enhanced in ways that make them easier to acquire, install, service, and operate, all with an eye towards expanding access to care around the world.
How does the far-flung network of care providers stay in close touch with Bev? Via web-based remote patient monitoring and electronic communication applications that report symptoms in real time and that communicate with members of the care team.
This vision of the future brings together several important converging trends – trends that we believe will usher in an era when cancer is no longer to be feared because we will have the means for using an evolving knowledge base to cancer patients’ benefit, and care will be more accessible around the world. These trends are:
- Early detection and diagnosis
- Data-driven clinical decisions informing personalised treatment
- Survivorship, with cancer managed as a chronic, rather than fatal, disease.
The exciting aspect of this vision of the future is that many of the elements are already in place, with remote services at the forefront of how we are delivering care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are confident this vision can be a reality. At Varian, we are rapidly developing solutions in each of these three areas to do our part in creating a world without fear of cancer.
This article is written by Kolleen T. Kennedy, President, Proton Solutions and Chief Growth Officer, Varian Medical Systems and Christopher A. Toth, President, Oncology Systems, Varian Medical Systems
Note: A version of this article appeared in the newsroom of C/Can (City Cancer Challenge), an initiative that was launched in 2017 by the Union for International Cancer Control, and is now a standalone foundation active in nine cities around the world. C/Can’s mission is to support cities around the world as they work to improve access to equitable, quality cancer care.
Refer enquiries to Varian Medical Systems Australasia on 1800657036 or [email protected]