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Clinical Cancer Advances 2011: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer From the American Society of Clinical Oncology


A message from ASCO'S President. It has been forty years since President Richard Nixon signed the National Cancer Act of 1971, which many view as the nation's declaration of the "War on Cancer." The bill has led to major investments in cancer research and significant increases in cancer survival. Today, two-thirds of patients survive at least five years after being diagnosed with cancer compared with just half of all diagnosed patients surviving five years after diagnosis in 1975. The research advances detailed in this year's Clinical Cancer Advances demonstrate that improvements in cancer screening, treatment, and prevention save and improve lives. But although much progress has been made, cancer remains one of the world's most serious health problems. In the United States, the disease is expected to become the nation's leading cause of death in the years ahead as our population ages. I believe we can accelerate the pace of progress, provided that everyone involved in cancer care works together to achieve this goal. It is this viewpoint that has shaped the theme for my presidential term: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer. In practice, this means that physicians and researchers must learn from every patient's experience, ensure greater collaboration between members of a patient's medical team, and involve more patients in the search for cures through clinical trials. Cancer advocates, insurers, and government agencies also have important roles to play. Today, we have an incredible opportunity to improve the quality of cancer care by drawing lessons from the real-world experiences of patients. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is taking the lead in this area, in part through innovative use of health information technology. In addition to our existing quality initiatives, ASCO is working with partners to develop a comprehensive rapid-learning system for cancer care. When complete, this system will provide physicians with personalized, real-time information that can inform the care of every patient with cancer as well as connect patients with their entire medical teams. The rapid learning system will form a continuous cycle of learning: securely capturing data from every patient at the point of care, drawing on evidence-based guidelines, and evaluating quality of care against those standards and the outcomes of other patients. Clinical trials are another area in which collaboration is critical. Increasing clinical trial participation will require commitment across the cancer community from physicians, patients, insurers, hospitals, and industry. A 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine described challenges to participation in trials by both physicians and patients and provided recommendations for revitalizing clinical trials conducted through the National Cancer Institute's Cooperative Group Program. ASCO has pledged its support for the full implementation of these recommendations. More broadly, ASCO recently outlined a bold vision for translational and clinical cancer research for the next decade and made recommendations to achieve that vision. Accelerating Progress Against Cancer: ASCO's Blueprint for Transforming Clinical and Translational Research, released in November, calls for a research system that takes full advantage of today's scientific and technologic opportunities and sets a high-level agenda for policy makers, regulators, and advocates. Cancer research has transformed cancer care in the past forty years, and this year's Clinical Cancer Advances illustrates how far we have come in the past year alone. We now have a tremendous opportunity to use today's knowledge and collaborate across all facets of cancer care to conquer this deadly disease. Michael P. Link, MD President American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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