In our effort to eradicate gynecologic cancers, we devote the vast majority of our time to treatment, and rightly so. However, we also have a responsibility to help women take action to prevent these cancers from developing in the first place. The Society of Gynecologic Oncology and Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology take this responsibility seriously.
This year the Communications Committee is launching prevention awareness initiatives in three priority areas: obesity, genetics and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.
The Committee has outlined a strategy for a multi-year awareness campaign on the connection between obesity and gynecologic cancers. Year-one efforts will focus on endometrial cancer. We want to help our members communicate with their patients about obesity in a compassionate and effective manner. Initial plans include the development of special resources for members and sessions devoted to obesity at the SGO’s 45th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer in March 2014. In a related development, Gynecologic Oncology will devote its March 2014 issue to the theme of obesity. Looking ahead, SGO and the Foundation anticipate numerous opportunities for collaboration with organizations that have also identified obesity and cancer as a priority issue.
In genetics, we plan to build on the momentum generated by Angelina Jolie’s advocacy of genetic testing. The Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times ran our letters to the editor lauding Ms. Jolie’s action and affirming our support of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines recommending genetic counseling and testing for all women with ovarian, peritoneal or fallopian tube cancer regardless of other family history. Watch for more communications initiatives in the form of position statements, backgrounders, opinion pieces, and collaborations with other societies.
We recently announced our new partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness of the importance of HPV vaccination. Upon entering the partnership, SGO immediately produced a position statement strongly supporting HPV vaccination for both boys and girls. CDC encourages SGO members to speak with pediatricians and family practitioners about the importance of vaccination. This partnership is just the beginning.
To demonstrate our commitment to prevention, I have established a Prevention Task Force under the leadership of Karen Lu, MD. We will look to identify multi-pronged approaches to engage all aspects of the Society and Foundation in this effort, including education, research, quality and government relations.
These are ambitious plans. We know it will take a long-term commitment to make headway. Obesity, for one, certainly isn’t going to go away overnight. We can use your support and suggestions. Please contact me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Barbara A. Goff, MD