In the mid-1970s, more than half of the patients diagnosed with cancer in the United States failed to survive five years. Today, that picture has changed dramatically.
In the mid-1970s, more than half of the patients diagnosed with cancer in the United States failed to survive five years. Today, that picture has changed dramatically. The overall five-year survival rate has reached 68%, and cancer increasingly is becoming not only a chronic disease but also one that in some tumor types might soon be considered cured.
In recognition of such remarkable progress, the Intellisphere® Oncology Specialty Group has launched a new awards program, “Giants of Cancer Care,” to honor oncology specialists whose work has helped save, prolong, or improve countless lives.
The Giants of Cancer Care awards celebrate the achievements of 12 leading researchers whose discoveries have propelled the field forward and established the building blocks for future advances. An advisory panel of eminent oncologists chose the honorees in two broad categories: “Pioneers,” who have made their mark through a large body of work, and “Innovators,” who have made significant contributions within the past 10 years.
The winners were announced during a reception at the 14th International Lung Cancer Congress, held July 25-27 in Huntington Beach, California. The congress was hosted by Physicians’ Education Resource (PER), an affiliate of MJH Associates, the parent company of Intellisphere.
The motivation to initiate the program stems from “a very personal and heartfelt place,” said Jack Lepping, vice president of Oncology at MJH Associates, during the reception.
“So many of us, like so many of you, have had cancer personally touch our lives, whether it’s a friend or a family member, a loved one close or far away, here still or gone too soon,” said Lepping. “We believe that oncology is more than a profession—it’s a calling. The people of oncology, like many of you here, work day in and day out in medical circumstances that are well beyond reasonable challenges. Yet there is a depth of drive and passion to persevere, to be the one to make the discovery that puts us one step closer to better lives, to longer lives.”
That theme of commitment was echoed by two of the honorees, who addressed the audience in Huntington Beach.
Thomas J. Lynch Jr, MD, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven in Connecticut, noted in a prerecorded video interview that was broadcast at the reception that the honor accorded him depends upon teamwork among scientists, specialists, and clinicians. He said such teamwork has produced an “extraordinary improvement” in the understanding of the biology of lung cancer and in anticancer strategies.
“The community that we have as lung cancer doctors, the men and women who commit themselves to ending suffering for lung cancer, is truly stunning,” said Lynch. “We never would have gotten there without people who have and share a lifetime commitment to eradicating this disease.”
Everett E. Vokes, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine and physician-in-chief at the University of Chicago in Illinois, was honored for his achievements in the treatment of head and neck cancers. Vokes also specializes in lung cancer and participated in the PER conference as a faculty member.
He, too, attributed his success to discoveries made in concert with others in the field. “I think teamwork really describes oncology,” said Vokes, who was present at the ceremony.
Vokes recognized the many advances in the understanding and treatment of head and neck cancers in the past two decades, including the characterization of disease associated with the human papillomavirus.
“I accept this in the spirit of improving the care for our patients,” said Vokes.
The cancer survival figures are reported in Cancer Statistics 2013, a presentation of the American Cancer Society, available at http://goo.gl/SGl5s2.
University of Pittsburgh
Pioneer in the biology and treatment of breast cancer
Pioneered a lifesaving treatment for testicular cancer
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Pioneer who discovered the molecular basis of colorectal cancer
University of Chicago
Innovator of concomitant chemoradiation therapy for head and neck cancers
University of California, San Francisco
Innovator in the genetic composition and function of telomeres
Oregon Health & Science University
Innovator of targeted therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia
Yale Cancer Center
Pioneered the use of molecular testing for EGFR mutations in lung cancer
Pioneer in myeloma research, treatment, and education
Yale Cancer Center
Innovator of combination chemotherapy regimens for large-cell lymphomas
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Innovator of novel AR inhibitor for treatment of advanced prostate cancer
National Cancer Institute
Pioneered adoptive immunotherapy in melanoma
Harvard Medical School
Father of angiogenesis