|A Conversation with Dr. Karen Antman |
Dr. Karen Antman, director of Columbia University Medical Center's Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and chief of the division of medical oncology, co-chaired the recent Sarcoma Progress Review Group (PRG), which released its recommendations for advancing diagnosis and treatment of sarcomas on Jan. 23 (see Special Report). Dr. Antman shares her thoughts on the report with the NCI Cancer Bulletin.
The recommendation to create a Sarcoma Research Consortium (SRC) was singled out as the top priority among the six priority areas you identified. Why is this so important, in your mind?
Sarcoma research in the United States is extremely fragmented at the moment. The establishment of a Sarcoma Research Consortium is essential to ensuring that there is greater coordination of sarcoma research and greater collaboration among sarcoma researchers.
There were five other priorities identified in addition to the consortium. Are there any that, if implemented, will "bear fruit" more quickly?
More strategically designed clinical trials would most likely have the most immediate impact, with accrual from all of the United States and perhaps Canada. Developing better tissue resources and a central tool kit, so that researchers have access to these and don't have to accumulate resources, would also be of immediate help. Certainly just getting accurate numbers for sarcoma incidence and mortality would be very beneficial.
The process for conducting a PRG appears to be quite robust and rigorous. In the case of the Sarcoma PRG, a 3-day, 112-participant roundtable helped identify and develop the priority areas. What are the benefits of having this issue addressed through such a process, as opposed to a review by a smaller, less inclusive group?
We purposely included some people with expertise in areas such as communication, epidemiology, and animal models who were not known for their sarcoma work but were respected as thoughtful and creative. This is an advantage of including a wider group. After the discussions, some of these people may even develop an interest in sarcomas. Not enough has been done in sarcoma epidemiology, outcomes, or imaging, so we also had group members with these backgrounds to accelerate discussion in these areas.