INVESTING IN SURVIVORSHIP RESEARCH

Moderator: Patricia Ganz, University of California, Los Angeles

Our group heard from Lois Travis, who provided us with a very informative presentation illustrating the fact that survivors of cancer treatment have a very high risk of second malignant neoplasms. Perhaps 1 of every 6 new cancers are from people who have been previously treated with chemotherapy or radiation. It is therefore very important that we view this group as high risk. She called for much more collaborative research with basic scientists, looking at the genetics of risk, so we could find out who is predisposed for second cancer. She called for a national infrastructure to support the conduct of this type of research, which would include storage of specimens and characterization of cohorts, and specific guidelines for follow-up.

Sandra Horning talked to us about ASCO’s activities. I think we heard about many of these in her introductory remarks. There are broad areas of work that ASCO is working on, including research methods, policy, development of guidelines, and communications, with its web site peoplelivingwithcancer.org, as an example. It is important as a resource. Another ASCO survivorship activity pertains to the scientific education at the annual meeting, which again, hopefully will help to educate oncologists about the shared model of care. We hope to have a session on this model at the 2006 Spring meeting.

Julia Rowland from the Office of Cancer Survivorship talked to us about the many dilemmas associated with trying to find survivors and follow them to evaluate their very long-term effects, those experienced more than five years after diagnosis. Most of the studies that have been done, have been done in the shorter-term. She also discussed the need for tools to actually measure survivorship outcomes, and also the need for transdisciplinary efforts. There were some comments on the panel from Dr. Horning and others that maybe if we can get colleagues in the basic sciences involved in this transdisciplinary effort, that the field will be seen as high profile, high value, and will achieve a number of our goals. Two of the research areas that Dr. Rowland thought were very important from her office were the role of basic and biomedical aspects of survivorship problems or challenges. There is a real paucity of research in this area. Likewise, the impact of cancer and survivorship on family members and caregivers is distinctly understudied. Also discussed, was the idea of trying to build survivorship relevant metrics and benchmarks into our studies as we go forward, linking into some of the topics such as guidelines and quality measures that Rodger Winn talked about. I think if we are going to make progress in these areas, we need to measure it, and that was eloquently discussed.



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