NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research NewsNCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
July 6, 2004 • Volume 1 / Number 27 E-Mail This Document  |  Download PDF  |  Bulletin Archive/Search  |  Subscribe

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A Conversation with Dr. Brenda Edwards
Dr. Brenda Edwards Dr. Brenda Edwards has been associate director of the Surveillance Research Program and its predecessor organizational unit in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences since 1989. She has been involved in cancer prevention and control since its formative days in the early 1980s. Dr. Edwards began her affiliation with NCI in 1978 as a researcher in cancer treatment clinical trials, and 4 years later joined the team conducting some of the first cancer prevention trials. Her research has included the full spectrum of cancer surveillance, including risk factors, patterns of care, behavioral studies and survivorship, statistical methodology, and analytic activities.

The Report to the Nation provides a wealth of information. What is different or notable about this year's report?

This year we gave a fair amount of attention to many types of cancers because it's important to bring attention to the full spectrum of cancer as it affects all people. We were also very intentional about providing substantial information about survival. That's what makes a resource like this so valuable, because the data can be used to describe the burden of cancer, the past successes, and the challenges for the future in a whole host of cancer sites for different population groups.

Survivorship is an area of intense focus. How did you handle that in the Report?

We knew that it's difficult to document progress via survival data, so we included all of the caveats. The increases in screening, for example, can actually alter the proportion of patients who have early-stage disease, which is going to improve the survival figure. Some people have argued that this skews the results. The data show that with effective screening and with improved treatments, over a long time ultimately you will lower the population mortality rates.

So a report like this really has many uses for the entire cancer community?

Yes. We've heard from many people that the Report often serves as a key resource document for their work. They know they can turn to it to bring them up to date on incidence, mortality, and, this year of course, there is a lot of survival data. It's a little easier to use than posting hundreds of pages on the Web.