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On the Brink of Change

Mike Hennessy
Published: Thursday, Mar 26, 2015
Mike Hennessy

OncLive Chairman,
Mike Hennessy

Ever since Sidney Farber discovered that an antineoplastic agent could induce remissions in children with leukemia in 1947, chemotherapy has been part of the treatment paradigm for hematologic malignancies. It might have taken 70 years, but chemotherapy’s preeminent position in at least one area—chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)—is rapidly giving way to newer agents.

The profound changes under way in the treatment of this malignancy were among the highlights captured in our coverage of the 19th Annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies:® Focus on Leukemias, Lymphomas, and Myeloma, held February 20-21 in Miami.

Our cover story, “Chemotherapy for CLL Not Yet Obsolete But in Flux,” details the emerging paradigm from the perspective of expert William G. Wierda, MD, PhD. Although chemotherapy remains the frontline treatment now, targeted agents are widely used in relapse settings and clinical trials to advance the new therapies forward in the timeline are in progress.

When we talk about the end of an era in oncology, of course, we do so without any nostalgia. There is much excitement for the newer, better treatments that flow from decades of clinical research.

This excitement is palpable at major conferences where new clinical trial data are announced and at Physicians’ Education Research (PER®) meetings (such as the hematologic congress where Wierda spoke) where the world’s top experts gather to dissect those findings.

Yet for as much admiration as we have for the fruits of those efforts, Maurie Markman, MD, OncologyLive’s editor-in-chief, reminds us not to accept the conclusions that research teams draw without examining the validity of both the initial premise and the eventual outcome— even if those reports are described in peer-reviewed literature.

In his Controversies in Clinical Care series, Markman discusses several studies that illustrate the necessity for clinicians to read the oncology literature with a spirit of inquiry before implementing changes in patient care suggested by such reports.

In some ways, the thoughts expressed in these articles form bookends for advancement in cancer care: remarkable new therapies developed and vetted in a spirit of sober inquiry.

We appreciate the opportunity to convey this information to the oncology specialists who are working to improve the lives of patients with cancer in communities throughout the nation. Please let us know what you would like to learn about in our publications, on our websites, and in our video presentations from experts. And, as always, thank you for reading.


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