Specialty Groups — Oncology                

March/April, 2003

This issue of the Journal of Oncology Management focuses on Clinical Trials, Research, and Quality Of Life.  As we all know, participation in and accrual to clinical trials is an essential part of cancer programs and to the broader field of cancer research.  However, general observations about cancer programs participation in clinical trials raise a number of interesting questions:

1.     Why do many cancer programs struggle to meet the number of accruals required to meet the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) standard?

2.     Would these levels be achieved if it was not a required CoC standard?

3.     What improvements are required in a cancer program’s or institution’s clinical research infrastructure to increase oncologists and surgeons participation in clinical research?

4.     How can hospital leaders feel comfortable with the level of investments that are required to improve clinical research infrastructure, if oncologists and surgeons currently do not support an active level of clinical research?

5.     Many clinical research trials in cancer programs focus on evaluating direct treatment options (e.g., medical and biological, radiation, surgical).  Should there be a greater emphasis on other areas of research such as integrated medicine, quality of life, and more effective mechanisms for community education, detection, and screening?

6.     Federal regulations and statutes are significantly changing the way in which clinical research is conducted, adding to its cost and the amount of time to complete the research.  How can these processes be improved, the time requirements shorted, and costs decreased?

7.     Clinical research is a timely and costly process, requiring significant amounts of funding (e.g., federally sponsored, pharmaceutical company sponsored, venture capital).  Will there be adequate funds in the future to take advantage of the vast wealth of knowledge and techniques that we have developed to date?

8.     With our growing knowledge and applications of genomics and chip technologies, how long will it be before the clinical research transitions from a focus on epidemiological studies to genetic response and receptivity?  What impact will this change have on professionals involved in the diagnosis, treatment, support, and rehabilitation of cancer patients?

Clinical research is a growing and exciting field.  It is in the process of transition in terms of the processes by which it is conducted as well as the very nature of the research.  As professionals in the field of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management, our role is to continue to integrate clinical research in oncology services in an effort to provide greater access and ease of opportunity to cancer patients and their families.  Ask yourselves what one thing you can do on a weekly or monthly basis that would make a difference and bring clinical research closer to cancer patients.  You can make a difference!

Best regards,

Joseph M. Spallina, FAAMA, FACHE President

American College of Oncology Administrators
[email protected]