A Conversation With Patricia Goldsmith

John Eichorn
Published: Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Patricia Goldsmith
Patricia Goldsmith
Patricia Goldsmith is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), a nonprofit alliance of 21 cancer centers in the United States. We spoke with Goldsmith following the NCCN 16th Annual Conference: Clinical Practice Guidelines & Quality Cancer Care, which was held March 9-13, 2011, at The Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida. Goldsmith has been with NCCN since 2005; prior to that she was vice president for institutional development, public affairs, and marketing at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.

OBTN: What was your primary goal for this year’s NCCN 16th Annual Conference: Clinical Practice Guidelines & Quality Cancer Care?

Goldsmith: This conference represents an opportunity to showcase the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology and to speak with the oncology community about the changes in the Guidelines and the evidence that is present in the Guidelines. It’s one-stop shopping, so to speak, for oncology professionals to be able to come to a conference and learn a great deal that impacts their real-world clinical practice life immediately. It’s also an opportunity—and we hear this from many attendees—to network in a meeting that is manageable in size and gives them an opportunity to get to know their fellow clinicians in an easy environment.

How does this, the 16th Annual Conference, differ from the first conference? What has changed since then?

Oh, it has changed very much. It’s probably at least 5 times bigger in terms of attendees. By all measures, it is the largest organized meeting—that we know of—of oncology fellows anywhere. It also has a very large advanced practice nursing program, as well as a very large program for oncology pharmacists. Plus, there are now 2 roundtables that deal with topical policy issues or issues that are of extreme importance to the oncology community.

Can you briefly describe how roundtable host Sam Donaldson came to be involved with this event?

Sam Donaldson is my dear friend. I actually met him 8 or 9 years ago when I was a vice president at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Sam is also a close friend of US Senator Connie Mack, who was at the time the chairman of the Board of Directors at Moffitt Cancer Center. We invited Mr Donaldson to be the keynote speaker for the grand opening of a research building at Moffitt Cancer Centers, and we just became very close friends through the years. When I joined NCCN, I had this idea of trying to create a very high-profile opening roundtable at our annual conference, and Sam signed on to do that 6 years ago. He subsequently agreed to be the chairman of the Board of Directors of the NCCN Foundation. So he’s become very actively involved at NCCN.

Are there any NCCN Guidelines update sessions that you considered more surprising or important than others in terms of what’s changed since the last update?

Well, I thought about that a lot. I reached out to our scientists and I wanted to pick 1 thing that I thought might be not necessarily “surprising,” but something that has really changed the view of standard of care. And I think that really was the discussion that came in the talk given by Robert J. Morgan, Jr, MD, of City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, California. Dr Morgan presented the guidelines for ovarian cancer and discussed the fact that the data indicate that intensive follow-up with CA-125 screening after a complete response in ovarian cancer may not be helpful. According to the data, early treatment initiated after an increase in CA-125 versus treatment only when there was clinical evidence of the disease provided no benefit in survival, but a decreased quality of life. The panel felt that CA-125 testing should be discussed with the patient because these data need to be balanced with the patient’s natural anxiety about whether the cancer is coming back. So I think that was a very important discussion, and again challenges a belief in the oncology community regarding what to do with the results of CA-125 and—also important— balancing the patient’s quality of life.

"We felt that the NCCN Foundation had the opportunity to be able to generate funding for young investigators— both physicians and nurses within the NCCN member institutions—to help give them some money to fund research, particularly research that in some way or another could focus on the Guidelines and how they’re used in practice."

–Patricia Goldsmith

Can you discuss the NCCN Foundation and its philanthropic services? Also, Russell Budd, an attorney, was recently named the newest board member. Is he the only lawyer on the NCCN Foundation board?

Yes, Russell Budd is the only attorney on the NCCN Foundation’s Board of Directors. We are in the process of rounding out that board and looking for diversity from a number of perspectives, so having an attorney on board was something that we thought was important.

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