We have dedicated several pages of our final issue of 2010 to exploring the nearly 40 years that have elapsed since the National Cancer Act was signed in 1971. Our staff spent many hours reaching out to various representatives of the oncology community, including practicing oncologists, renowned researchers, patient advocates, and heads of major oncology organizations. In our cover story, we allow these individuals to share with you—in their words—where they think the country is in the War on Cancer. We also compiled a timeline of the more momentous discoveries and events germane to oncology in the past 40 years. It would take an entire issue to highlight every notable advance, but even this snapshot shows how much closer we have moved toward our elusive end goal.
As part of this retrospective, we include a review of the newly released book The Emperor of All Maladies
by Siddhartha Mukherjee and an interview with the author, who is an oncologist and assistant professor at Columbia University in New York. Dr Mukherjee gave me an opportunity to read his book before it was released so I could prepare for the interview, and I was surprised that it was not the dry chronology of scientific progress that I had anticipated, but instead provided an engrossing look at the back and forth in our long struggle with this disease—where sometimes we win and sometimes cancer wins. The book shows that among the most trying times are those when we appear to be winning but cancer swoops back in and snatches away the victory.
Patients lie at the heart of Mukherjee’s story, and the book illustrates how much trust they and their families place in the physicians and surgeons caring for them. They subject their bodies to poisons and disfigurement, for example, in the belief that it will help them survive longer. Ultimately, The Emperor of All Maladies
demonstrates how much our society values life—our own and the lives of others. Even if you have more than a passing familiarity with the history of cancer research through the ages, I recommend you pick up this book and encourage your staff and patients to read it.
The nation’s medical professionals shoulder an awesome yet intimidating responsibility in this seemingly endless war. Society owes each of you tremendous gratitude for volunteering to enlist. One challenge you face is staying on top of the developments churned out by the continuously turning wheel of discovery; we continue to do our best to help. In this issue, we have included several top stories from the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology; you can find additional news from this meeting and from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium at our Website, www.OncLive.com.
Another challenge confronting today’s medical professionals is the pressure from all directions to cut costs without cutting corners. In this month’s Reimbursement & Managed Care section, writer Tracey Regan explores the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model and how it might affect the future practice of oncology in the United States. Editorial advisory board member and former president of the Community Oncology Alliance, Dr Patrick Cobb, tells Regan what the new group he has formed is doing to provide community oncologists with a road map for working with or establishing an ACO.
As we enter the holiday season, we would like to thank you for continuing to turn to Oncology & Biotech News
for news and information. We hope you have a happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year, and we will see you again in 2011, when we gird up for the next 40 years of battle.