June 24, 2020

Chasing Cancer: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Effects Cancer Outcomes

Washington Post Live hosted the first installment of Chasing Cancer with Pulitzer-prize winning author and oncologist, Siddhartha Mukherjee and Otis Brawley, a globally recognized cancer specialist. Both addressed the challenges facing healthcare workers as they navigate the stress of combating the pandemic.
In a segment presented by Pfizer, Dara Richardson-Heron, chief patient officer for Pfizer, will discuss the differences in care faced by many older people living with cancer, barriers to providing optimal care and what can be done to address the issue.
Full Segments
Siddhartha Mukherjee, a Pulitzer-prize winning author and oncologist, and Otis Brawley, a globally recognized cancer specialist, will discuss disparities in urgent and essential cancer treatments. In a segment presented by Pfizer, Dara Richardson-Heron, chief patient officer for Pfizer, will discuss the differences in care faced by many older people living with cancer, barriers to providing optimal care and what can be done to address the issue. Join us on June 24 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
  • Jun 24
Siddhartha Mukherjee, a Pulitzer-prize winning author and oncologist, and Otis Brawley, a globally recognized cancer specialist, will discuss disparities in urgent and essential cancer treatments. In a segment presented by Pfizer, Dara Richardson-Heron, chief patient officer for Pfizer, will discuss the differences in care faced by many older people living with cancer, barriers to providing optimal care and what can be done to address the issue. Join us on June 24 at 12:00 p.m. ET.
  • Jun 24
Highlights
Arizona and Florida have experienced a recent surge in coronavirus cases. Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD is imploring the governors of these states to take reopening “extremely seriously,’ adding that a second wave would “cripple the economy once again.’ ‘I do fear we are opening without adequate masking and adequate protection. I’m extraordinarily worried that the messaging that we’ve tried so desperately to move into people’s minds over the last two months has not fully penetrated…I think the phase-by-phase opening is actually the right way to do things.”
  • Jun 24
Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD says having a coronavirus vaccine by winter is an ‘ambitious goal,’ but it’s possible. He says it’s also critical that we address distrust and misinformation about vaccines. ‘We need to rebuild trust in the scientific system. Vaccines in the history of humanity have saved millions of lives...Vaccines have been getting safer and safer every year.’
  • Jun 24
Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD says patients should not delay cancer screenings and treatments because of the coronavirus. ‘In most cancer centers, the out-patient chemotherapy wards have been isolated and intensive testing is deployed before you can get chemotherapy…Treating cancer early and appropriately remains an incredibly important goal.”
  • Jun 24
Communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Otis Brawley, MD says the pandemic has exposed a ‘gaping wound in American society.’ “These disparities are the problems that we’ve been dealing with in the areas of health disparities and health equity, and they’ve really been defined for more than 50 years…They’ve been happening in many diseases over the years.”
  • Jun 24
Otis Brawley, MD says he’s excited about new developments in cancer treatment but also the increased interest in cancer prevention. ‘If we start practicing prevention today, in 2035, 2040, we will have less cancer.’
  • Jun 24
Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University
Siddhartha Mukherjee is a pioneering physician, oncologist, and author who has redefined our public discourse on human health, medicine and science. A profoundly influential voice in the scientific community, he is best known for his books, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which earned him the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, and The Gene: An Intimate History which won international awards and was recognized by The Washington Post and The New York Times as one of the most influential books of 2016. His published works exhibit an outstanding literary skill that has left an indelible mark on our culture, as The Emperor of All Maladies has been adapted into a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns, and was included among Time magazine’s 100 best nonfiction books of the past century. Dr. Mukherjee’s achievements as a writer and educator build upon his career as a renowned medical scholar. His groundbreaking studies into the composition and behavior of cancer cells have pushed the boundaries of modern medicine. His innovative research signals a paradigm shift in cancer pathology, and has enabled the development of treatments that reach beyond current pharmaceutical models toward new biological and cellular therapies.
Otis Brawley, MD
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Otis Brawley is a globally-recognized expert in cancer prevention and control. He has worked to reduce overscreening of medical conditions, which has revolutionized patient treatment by increasing quality of life and reducing health disparities. Brawley’s research focuses on developing cancer screening strategies and ensuring their effectiveness. He has championed efforts to decrease smoking and implement other lifestyle risk reduction programs, as well as to provide critical support to cancer patients and concentrate cancer control efforts in areas where they could be most effective. Brawley currently leads a broad interdisciplinary research effort on cancer health disparities at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, striving to close racial, economic, and social disparities in the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer in the United States and worldwide. He also directs community outreach programs for underserved populations throughout Maryland. Brawley joined Johns Hopkins University as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in 2019 from the American Cancer Society and Emory University.
Content from Pfizer
While access to and delivery of quality healthcare is not a new issue, the conversation to date has largely excluded older people as a distinct, vulnerable population. That is, until COVID-19 magnified an unpleasant truth: our society is anti-aging and this mindset can lead to unintended consequences for people ages 65 and older. Age is the greatest risk factor for developing cancer. Yet, evidence shows that many older people living with cancer do not receive optimal, or even guideline-based care. Dara Richardson-Heron, chief patient officer at Pfizer, and Sue Peschin, MHS, president and CEO at the Alliance for Aging Research, discuss the differences in care faced by older people living with cancer, barriers to providing optimal care and what we can do to address the issue.
  • Jun 24
Dara Richardson-Heron, MD
Chief Patient Officer, Pfizer
Dr. Dara Richardson-Heron is a physician by trade and an advocate by choice, who is passionate about leveraging her skills, experience, and expertise to reduce healthcare disparities. As Pfizer’s chief patient officer, Dr. Richardson-Heron leads Pfizer’s work to advance patient- focused programs and platforms. Her commitment to seek patients’ voices and input helps Pfizer to better respond to patients’ and communities’ needs, with the goal of helping people live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Before joining Pfizer in 2020, Dr. Richardson-Heron served as the chief engagement officer and scientific executive for the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) All of Us Research Program. There, she served on the NIH executive leadership team and led outreach efforts to enroll and retain 1 million or more volunteers in a landmark effort to advance innovative health research that may lead to more precise treatment and prevention strategies. Prior to the NIH, she served as chief executive officer at YWCA USA, chief executive officer of the Greater NYC Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, national chief medical officer at the United Cerebral Palsy Association, assistant executive director and chief medical officer at United Cerebral Palsy of New York City, and special assistant to the CEO and executive medical director at Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Dr. Richardson-Heron holds a doctorate in medicine from New York University’s School of Medicine and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Barnard College.
Sue Peschin, MHS
President and CEO, Alliance for Aging Research
Susan Peschin, MHS, is president and CEO at the Alliance for Aging Research, the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to improve the experience of aging and health. Since 2012, Ms. Peschin has been a driving force in the growth and success of the organization. As a thought leader on many aging-related issues, she has led the Alliance in efforts to: boost older adult immunization rates; increase NIH Alzheimer’s disease and aging research funding; raise awareness of geriatric cardiac issues; develop Talk NERDY to Me (NERDY-Nurturing Engagement in Research and Development with You), a PCORI-funded, older patient and family caregiver research engagement network; address costs of healthcare and value frameworks; and reform Medicare treatment access issues. She participates in major industry and policy symposiums around the country each year and has published opinion pieces in news outlets nationwide. Ms. Peschin currently serves on the Boards of Heart Valve Voice U.S. and the King Farm Neighbors Village; and on the National Advisory Council for the National Institute on Aging at the NIH. Ms. Peschin earned a B.A. in Sociology from Brandeis University, and a M.H.S. degree in Health Policy from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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