A Year to Remember
And 2004 was the perfect time to introduce the Bulletin. We saw significant advances that spanned the discovery-development-delivery continuum of cancer research. New findings in the area of cancer imaging, for example, suggest that we are moving toward a time when we can use advanced imaging technologies to monitor cancer at the molecular level, measuring treatment effects before they are clinically apparent, thus making more timely treatment decisions. New insights into the metastasis process were also gained this year, with researchers elucidating critical activity in the tumor microenvironment that enables metastasis to occur. With the launch in October of the NCI Integrative Cancer Biology Program, we will move more quickly toward unraveling the complex processes that underlie tumor growth and metastasis.
Some of the most highly praised studies published this year highlighted how genetic mutations influence the efficacy of new targeted agents - findings that should aid the movement toward more individualized care and development of other targeted agents. Combined with improvements in the use of more standard therapies, such findings presage a cancer care revolution.
With the launch of the cancer Bio-medical Informatics Grid (caBIG) and the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, we hope to rapidly accelerate the cancer research technology revolution. I am confident these initiatives will transform how we conduct research, allowing scientists to perform their work more quickly and develop more effective diagnostic tests and therapies. Such technological advances clearly will affect our clinical trial system, a fact being considered by the NCI Clinical Trials Working Group formed this year. The group is rapidly moving toward providing recommendations for the NCI-supported clinical trials program to ensure that it yields more efficient, informative trials that quickly translate into new interventions.
New reports released this year also shed more light on the factors that influence cancer care disparities and the problems encountered by and the needs of cancer survivors. More importantly, through the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities and Office of Cancer Survivorship, we are addressing these issues. NCI, for example, is funding radiation oncology clinical trials at institutions that care for a large number of medically underserved patients. NCI is also firmly committed to preventing cancer and recently launched, with HHS, a national network of smoking cessation quitlines.
All of these efforts will lead us to an era of personalized oncology in which we prevent more people from developing cancer, detect the disease very early, and successfully eliminate or control their malignancy. I hope these representative examples give you a sense of the work being done in the cancer research community and of where we are going as an institute.
I'd like to extend my most sincere thanks to all of you who participate in helping advance cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and care. Your efforts are important and inspiring. Have a safe and happy holiday season and my warmest wishes for a new year filled with health, success, and joy.
Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach