The Lynx Group

A Patient’s Perception of Value in Cancer Treatment Today

August 2015, Vol 6, No 7

Science and technology have taken us through a dynamic portal, transforming medicine into a business and cancer into an industry that is challenged by its clinical benefits, safety, and cost-effectiveness. We are now witnessing a change in oncology with the migration from doctor- to patient-centric treatment.

I am no longer a patient who listens passively to my doctors. The changing character of medicine has necessitated that I not remain a submissive patient. Out of necessity, I have become one of its consumers, depending on my ability to access timely, relevant information and achieve a meaningful dialogue with my medical team.

As a patient with inoperable cancer, it was within me to look beyond that which was offered. Could it have been Medicare and a supplemental insurance, my level of higher education, or my socioethnic background that drove me to go beyond the obvious and historically accepted treatments? I know it was.

We live in a time and place where information is fluid and widely available. Not to be taken at face value, the information I derived enabled me to articulate my needs and concerns, and question the other alternatives in practice that otherwise had not been mentioned to me by my oncologist.

When I was diagnosed in 2012 with GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor), the widely accepted practice of surgery was not, and continues to not be, an option. A targeted therapy, which was an oral oncolytic, was. My pharmacy provider at the time did not list my drug on its formulary. A change was made to accommodate my needs, but even so, the cost of the drug was akin to sinking into financial quicksand.

Through the blessing and generosity of Patient Services, Inc, I have been able to receive treatment and gain time—the time to extend the quality of life with my family, friends, and community, and the longevity of time to become a patient who could receive proton beam therapy in 2015, a treatment that I recently completed.

I hope that the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s value framework in cancer treatment1 will enable providers to avoid redundancy and duplication of effort, and create improved economy of scale through ongoing professional development. The oncology community should become receptive to “opening its borders” and embrace alternative treatment strategies rather than perceive them as competitors—to the potential detriment of their patients.

If we believe it—we can achieve it.


  1. Schnipper LE, Davidson NE, Wollins DS, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology statement: a conceptual framework to assess the value of cancer treatment options. J Clin Oncol. 2015 Jun 22. Epub ahead of print.

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