For oncology specialists, caring for patients with cancer has long meant analyzing the biological and clinical pieces of a puzzle unique to each individual and then figuring out the optimal management plan to meet his or her needs.
That might entail prescribing a drug off label, researching a new therapeutic regimen, seeking advice from colleagues on an emerging technique, or helping a patient overcome a hurdle to obtain care. In this context, then, it is particularly gratifying to see leaders in the oncology field responding to challenges that ultimately will affect outcomes for patients in a practical and open-minded manner.
This spirit is captured in two articles featured in this issue of OncologyLive
. Our cover story, “Oncologists Urged to Help Obese Breast Cancer Patients Manage Weight
,” focuses on an important problem for patients and practitioners alike. It is becoming increasingly clear that patients with certain types of cancer who are overweight or obese face worse outcomes than those whose weight is normal.
At the 14th Annual International Congress on the Future of Breast Cancer that Physicians’ Education Resource (PER) recently hosted in California, Joseph Sparano, MD, suggested in part that oncologists take a page from the diabetes playbook and guide obese patients with breast cancer toward diet and lifestyle interventions.
Also in the realm of practical approaches to difficult problems is the industry effort under way to streamline the development of biomarker testing for the exciting new class of immunotherapies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in non–small cell lung cancer. We report on how fierce pharmaceutical competitors are getting together to analyze testing for this important marker.
In both instances, problem solving involves oncology professionals moving outside their comfort zones.
When it comes to obese patients, we’re talking about a willingness not only to provide a new service but also to broach a delicate subject—after all, who wants to talk to a patient grappling with a cancer diagnosis about weight loss? For pharmaceutical companies battling in a market-driven environment, we can’t automatically expect a willingness to cooperate on a patient-focused solution to a difficult scientific question.
That’s what is always so inspiring about the oncology community. When it comes time to push forward, providers and leaders alike are committed to finding a way to do so.