SGO Issues Jan. 17, 2013

SGO Issues Jan. 17, 2013

Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology to honor Gynecologic Oncology Group
Nationally known guest speakers slated for Annual Meeting
Repurposing the Pap smear for endometrial and ovarian cancer
mySGO and Virtual Tumor Board reach one-year milestone

Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology to honor Gynecologic Oncology Group

On Saturday, March 9, in Los Angeles, the Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology will salute the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) and the chairs who have led this prestigious organization through more than 40 years of clinical research in the field of gynecologic oncology.

The Foundation Gala begins at 6:30 p.m. at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at LA Live during the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

More than 350 health care professionals and industry partners who are committed to helping the SGO achieve its vision of one day eradicating women’s cancers are expected to attend. During this celebration, the Foundation will honor the four chairmen of the GOG who have been instrumental in advancements in treatment and prevention of gynecologic cancers:

  • Myroslaw M. Hreshchyshyn, MD, (1928-1999) GOG’s first Group Chair from 1970 to 1975
  • George C. Lewis, Jr., MD, (1919-2010) GOG Group Chair from 1975 to 1989, and the first SGO President
  • Robert C. Park, MD, GOG Chair from 1989 to 2002
  • Philip J. DiSaia, MD, GOG Chair from 2002 to present

“The GOG and SGO have been great partners since they were established,” said SGO President Ronald D. Alvarez, MD. “The GOG has been at the forefront of discovering new and more effective treatment strategies for gynecologic cancer. At the same time, SGO members have incorporated these practice-changing advancements into the day-in and day-out care of women affected by these cancers. Together our organizations have helped establish current standards of care and improve the outcomes of women with gynecologic cancer.”

Since its formation in 1970, GOG research has led to many practice-defining advances in the management of gynecologic cancers, including:

  • Defining the current standard of care for women with advanced ovarian cancer (surgical cytoreduction followed by paclitaxel/carboplatin),
  • Establishing intraperitoneal chemotherapy as the treatment of choice in the management of small-volume-residual advanced ovarian cancer (National Cancer Institute [NCI] Clinical Alert January 2006), and
  • Identifying concurrent cisplatin-based chemoradiation as the treatment of choice for stages IB2-IVA carcinoma of the uterine cervix (NCI Clinical Alert February 1999).

“We are in the midst of great changes in the nation’s cancer related clinical trial program,” said Dr. Alvarez.

The GOG will be joining the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) in the new NRG National Clinical Trials Network Operation Center, he said.

“Undoubtedly changes will occur and the GOG as we currently know it will evolve. Thus it seems quite timely to celebrate the success of the GOG and bestow well-deserved kudos to the outstanding individuals who have led it. I am hoping my colleagues within SGO and GOG will make it a point to join in this celebration.”

Register here for the Foundation for Gynecologic Oncology Gala.

Nationally known guest speakers slated for Annual Meeting

This year’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer will feature two guest lecturers who are nationally known for their contributions to the field of oncology, and their expertise on national trends that impact cancer care.

Presidential Invited Guest Speaker (March 11) Ezekiel “Zeke” Emanuel, PhD, MD, is Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, Chair, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Emanuel is a former bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health and served as a special advisor to President Barack Obama’s Health Care Reform bill. A frequent guest writer for the New York Times, Dr. Emanuel recently wrote an opinion piece on end-of-life issues on Jan. 3. His talk is on March 11.

American Cancer Society Lecturer Edward Partridge, MD, is the director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. A past president of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Partridge is internationally known as a champion for reducing racial disparities in cancer care, and recently made a presentation on providing adequate high quality care (including preventive care) to populations that frequently do not receive it. He speaks on March 9.

Repurposing the Pap smear for endometrial and ovarian cancer

A recent article in Science Translational Medicine (Jan. 9, 2013) by Kinde and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University has brought attention to using liquid-based Pap smear collection of the cervix to search for potential punitive somatic mutations shed from endometrial and ovarian cancers.

The findings of this study were encouraging in that 100% of endometrial patients (24 of 24) and 41% of ovarian patients (9 of 22) demonstrated DNA mutations. Further, there were no false positives in a group of 14 specimens tested from patients without cancer.

This study received significant consumer media attention, including this New York Times article, despite the rather exploratory nature of the findings.

The Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) notes that validation of these data in larger cohorts, with particular attention to patients with other disorders that might mimic a “positive” test, would be necessary prior to the use of this technology in clinical practice.

SGO recognizes the lack of effective screening tests for both endometrial and ovarian cancers, and that the development of an effective test could reduce overall mortality from these diseases.

Current Pap tests are meant to screen for cervical cancer precursors. They do not screen for ovarian and endometrial cancer. A tool like this that leverages existing screening methodology has huge clinical implications but requires rigorous validation.

The SGO encourages and supports the development of new tests that could eventually allow us to identify ovarian cancer early, when it is treatable and potentially curable.

Shannon N. Westin, MD, of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, was the lead author of the Perspectives piece that accompanied the study.

mySGO and Virtual Tumor Board reach one-year milestone

January 2013 marks the first anniversary of mySGO, SGO’s online community where members can share cases, gain access to leading experts in the field, and join other online discussions with the gynecologic oncology community.

Over the past year mySGO’s Virtual Tumor Board has become a huge member benefit. Recent topics have ranged from what to do for a patient who is a candidate for hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) treatment who is at a hospital that doesn’t offer it, to individual cases of young gynecologic cancer patients who wish to retain their fertility.

Herbert Beck III, MD, a senior attending physician at the NorthShore University Health System in Lake Forest, IL, recently posted a question about whether minimally invasive surgery adds more risk to complex cases. “I love the VTB,” said Dr. Beck. “We get rapid feedback that helps with the thinking process involved in patient care issues.”

Ely Brand, MD, founder and moderator of the forum, said the virtual tumor board was created to get national exposure for local cases that present a clinical challenge. It also facilitates interaction among diverse segments of the gynecologic oncology community.

“Often in our local tumor boards the management styles follow local patterns of care, and thinking outside the box may be less encouraged,” he said. “This [the virtual tumor board] enables a greater exposure and broader viewpoint in a friendly environment.

“By having a ‘safe house’ where cases and ideas can be discussed among peers without fear of political pressure from competitors, mentors, fellows, other specialists and others that comprise a typical hospital or departmental tumor board, the doctor can focus on obtaining a second opinion as to what is best for the patient in a truly independent forum,” said Dr. Brand.

Dr. Brand noted that the success of the virtual tumor board has been rewarding but not surprising.

“Like any virtual community a bit of cheerleading and frequent maintenance is necessary,” he said. “What astounds me is the caliber of the presenters and responders, especially when I look at the time and day of postings—late Friday night or Sunday afternoon or (an) early weekday before surgery.”