From thriving to surviving: Cancer’s next challenge

One of the great achievements of medicine is the improvement in the survival rates of people with cancer. But people diagnosed with cancer, once the initial shock has been absorbed, want to be able to make choices, receive personalised and coordinated care and have more control over what happens to them. They want to live as “normal” a life as possible – to “thrive”.Justin's journey

“Imagine if you had worked all your life, were not extravagant, saved your money and, on the eve of retirement, there was a knock on your door and someone told you that you had lost all your savings.
You are bankrupt and they are not sure why.
That’s cancer.
No dialogue. No preparation. No forewarning.
Just a decision from someone, somewhere that your number is up.”

This happened to Justin McLean, a PwC strategy partner in Melbourne, Australia, who received that metaphorical knock on the door in late 2013.

Influenced by its partner Justin McLean’s experience of cancer care, PwC asked patients, caregivers and clinicians in Australia, the UK and the US what is important to them. We discussed the need for health systems to reassess their overall objectives: from helping people with cancer to survive, to enabling a better quality of life regardless of the prognosis.

Based on our research, the paper “From thriving to surviving: cancer’s next challenge” looks at how health systems should refocus and help people thrive throughout their cancer experience, namely to:

  • Personalise – focus more on the outcomes that matter to the individual.
  • Coordinate – provide better coordination of care and easy navigation.
  • Go digital – to enable improved quality of life throughout the cancer experience.

With global communications, digital reach and the plethora of new entrants joining the marketplace, this is the right time for health systems and organisations to look at how to change the paradigm of cancer care. By doing this, not only will it help improve the holistic cancer experience a person goes through – from surviving to thriving – but also benefit economies and businesses as a whole. But how can health systems globally change the cancer care paradigm?

Find out more about the chances and challenges of the global health system and what can be done here.