The Department of Veterans Affairs National Precision Oncology Program was launched in 2016 to bring targeted, personalized cancer care to veterans. Additionally, the program standardizes precision oncology in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
Precision oncology assesses genetic and molecular information to diagnose and treat cancers. This information is then used to personalize treatment and medicine tailored to a patient’s individual cancer. Precision oncology improves patient outcomes while reducing side effects from cancer-treating medications and overall improves the quality of life for cancer patients.
As the largest integrated provider of oncology services in the United States, VHA diagnoses more than 200 new cases of cancer each day and provides cancer-related care to more than 50,000 veterans annually.
Another effort by VA to help close the care gap for veterans is the expansion of VA’s National Oncology Program teleoncology access. In 2020, VA announced it is working with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to build new programs that enable VA oncology specialists to provide veterans access to precision cancer care regardless of where they live. Bristol Myers Squibb committed to providing VA $4.5 million in grant funds over three years to develop a national teleoncology center that would enable VHA to better reach veterans living in rural communities, providing all veterans access to precision oncology care.
“By developing, implementing and standardizing workflow processes, this project will expedite the expansion of a model for delivering specialized oncology care in a virtual setting — and help cancer care teams provide the utmost patient experience in a virtual care environment,” Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation President John L. Damonti said in a release.
Veterans with questions about the oncology services offered by VHA should consult with their VA health-care team.