VA Precision Oncology Program (POP)
The VA Office of Research and Development (ORD) conducts state-of-the-art precision oncology (cancer) research to improve care for Veterans and others with cancer. Precision oncology is an approach that looks at an individual's genes to select the best cancer treatment and care for that person. Genetic samples can be collected in several different ways, for instance, from a blood sample or cancer tumor biopsy.
VA Research has established a number of precision oncology programs targeted to specific types of cancer and technologies like artificial intelligence:
Lung Cancer―The Lung Precision Oncology Program (LPOP) network helps clinicians diagnose lung cancer at earlier stages (when survival rates are higher) and increases opportunities for Veterans to participate in clinical trials. The network uses a hub-and-spoke model to reach Veterans in rural and suburban areas of the country.
Prostate Cancer―Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in U.S. Veterans, affecting approximately 15,000 Veterans each year. In 2016, VA Research partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation to establish the Precision Oncology Program for Cancer of the Prostate (POPCaP). This program seeks to use precision medicine to tailor individualized treatments for Veterans with prostate cancer.
Breast Cancer―VA Research is building new infrastructure to advance breast cancer research. In late 2020, VA launched a new strategic partnership with Duke University and Baylor College of Medicine to help build VA’s National Women Veterans Oncology System of Excellence. The partnership will seek to recruit top oncologists specializing in breast cancer, develop national tumor boards, and increase Veteran access to cancer clinical trials.
Rare Cancers―VA Research is building partnerships with agencies like the NCI and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to address rare cancers in Veterans. VA also uses virtual clinical trials to help address these cancers. As a group, rare cancers affect fewer than 40,000 people a year and account for 27% of all cancers in the U.S., according to the NCI.
Computer Vision and Machine Learning in Precision Oncology (CoMPL)―was established in October 2021 to promote the use of computer vision and machine learning (CVML) for precision oncology within the VA. CoMPL's objectives include building computational infrastructure and tools; building a community to help VA researchers develop their own CVML applications; and developing new diagnostic tools for risk assessment that can predict both the response and need for more or less aggressive therapy in prostate, lung, and other cancers.
To learn more about precision oncology research in VA visit: