First Lady DeSantis announces streamlined cancer treatment and research initiative

by | Feb 23, 2023

  • First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the Florida Cancer Connect Collaborative, an initiative to streamline cancer care and research in the state.
  • The collaborative will focus on obtaining real-time data on cancer rates and reoccurrence rates, sharing treatment protocols and success rates, identifying best practices, and addressing obstructions to technology.
  • It will also explore new research entities to find more effective treatment methods and make recommendations for the implementation of the proposed $170 million in funding.
  • Florida is the second state in the US with the highest cancer burden, with cancer being the second leading cause of death in the state since 2014.

First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the Florida Cancer Connect Collaborative on Thursday, a new treatment initiative intended to streamline cancer care and research for doctors and their patients.

The collaborative, according to DeSantis, will encompass five primary objectives, including obtaining better situational awareness of the current cancer rates and reoccurrence rates. The First Lady cited a two-year lag between the time that data is collected and analyzed, stating an urging need for real-time statistical data.

“Currently there is about a two-year lag between the time data is collected, submitted, and analyzed, if at all, and we know that is clearly not good enough,” said the first lady. “We need real-time data to assess current trends and act as quickly as possible to address concerns.”

DeSantis stated that the data collaboration effort will push healthcare institutions to share real-time stats in order to collectively address trends. The first lady also called upon healthcare systems to publish treatment protocols and resulting success rates in order to further innovation in cancer treatment.

The collaborative also seeks to conduct investigations into the best cancer treatment practices currently in use across the nation and how to best implement the findings into healthcare systems across Florida.

“If a physician has been utilizing a proven technique within their hospital system for years, and that successful procedure is not available to patients across the state, why?” asked DeSantis. “What reasons or barriers to entry are prohibiting successful practices from being made available to Floridians?”

Another arm of the collaboration will pinpoint the obstructions to technological advancements, such as special interests, excessive litigation, or bureaucratic red tape, and suggest solutions to remove them.

“If it’s a bureaucratic unaccountable entity that delays or prevents help and hope to people of this state, we need to understand why.” said DeSantis  “How does one treatment get the reimbursement green light while others may not?”

The Cancer Connect Collaborative will also provide recommendations for the implementation of the proposed $170 million in funding included in the proposed state budget to improve the pace of cancer research and novel technologies. The collaborative will also explore new research entities in search of new, more effective treatment methods.

“We asked healthcare systems to look past profit models and competitive advantages to tear down their walls and unite in a common mission to save lives,” the first lady said.

Last May, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the first lady announced a $100 million award to Florida’s leading cancer treatment and research facilities including the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Shands Cancer Hospital.Gov. DeSantis stated that the $100 million allocation is an increase of 60 percent compared to funding awarded in 2021.

Florida has the second-highest cancer burden in the nation.  Since 2014, cancer has been the second leading cause of death in Florida, after heart disease. In the three-year period from 2016 to 2018, the total number of cancer deaths was 132,614, according to the Florida Department of Health.


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