Drs Jha and Antonarakis on Collaboration Between Community and Academic Oncologists

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Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Gautam Jha, MD, and Emmanuel Antonarakis, MD, on the advantages of collaborative efforts between community and academic oncologists.

Gautam Jha, MD, medical director, M Health Fairview Masonic Cancer Clinic and the Advanced Treatment Center at the M Health Fairview Clinics and Surgery Center—Minneapolis, chair, cancer committee, M Health Fairview Ridges Hospital; and Emmanuel Antonarakis, MD, associate director, Translational Research, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Clark Endowed Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, discuss the practicality and advantages of collaborative efforts between community and academic oncologists.

By addressing logistical challenges and dispelling historical misconceptions, both physicians hope that the broader oncology community can work toward a more inclusive and collaborative approach to cancer research and patient care. The physicians outline several hurdles faced by community practitioners, noting potential limitations in awareness of all currently available clinical trials, as well as the broad spectrum of patients with cancer they treat in practice. Unlike university oncologists who specialize in specific cancer types, community oncologists must stay abreast of developments across various spaces, posing a significant challenge in remaining fully informed on clinical trial options and recommendations across all disease states.

Highlighting historical misconceptions surrounding the relationship between academic and community oncologists, Antonarakis emphasizes the evolving dynamic characterized by mutual respect and collaboration rather than rivalry. He also explains that community oncologists should perceive academic colleagues as valuable resources for discussing complex cases, rather than only referring patients to academic centers for clinical trials. He stresses the ethical imperative of returning patients to their community physicians if they do not meet trial eligibility criteria, emphasizing the need to avoid any perception of patient poaching.

Both physicians mention the imperative nature of maintaining patient-centered care and fostering collaboration to enhance clinical trial enrollment. Jha highlights the logistical challenges faced by community oncologists, underscoring the need for increased support and resources to facilitate trial participation. He notes the importance of addressing time constraints and adds that adequate training and support is required to enable community oncologists to effectively overcome these barriers.

Antonarakis discusses the importance of dispelling misconceptions and fostering a collaborative spirit between academic and community oncologists. He says clinicians have an ethical obligation to prioritize patient care and maintain strong relationships with referring physicians. By ensuring open communication and mutual respect, Antonarakis suggests that the oncology community could work toward overcoming existing barriers to trial enrollment and fostering a more inclusive and collaborative approach to cancer research and care.

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