Issue: July 10, 2015
July 10, 2015
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ASCO president: Patient-centered approach essential for treatment, research

Issue: July 10, 2015
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Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, chief of the oncology/hematology division in the department of internal medicine at University of Nebraska Medical Center, began her 1-year term as ASCO president in June.

Vose spoke with HemOnc Today about her priorities as president, the greatest challenges in cancer care and the quality of the research presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

HemOnc Today: What are your top priorities as ASCO president?

Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO

Julie M. Vose

Vose: My theme for this year is “Collective wisdom: Patient-centered care and research.” That means we need to use all of our collective wisdom as a team-based care model to help our patients through various modalities, including surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology and all of the supportive care measures necessary to treat our patients. Patient-centered care and research means the patient is the center of everything we are doing. We need to continue to use the team-based modality in care as well as research to try to improve outcomes for our patients.

HemOnc Today: What do you consider the greatest challenge in cancer care and how can ASCO meet that challenge?

Vose: The greatest challenge is trying to match the right treatment with the right patient. In the past, we used the same types of therapies for all of our patients in different modalities. What we need to do is use prognostic models, biomarkers and genetic analysis to really pick the patients for different therapies. That will make it much more cost-effective because the response rate will be much higher.

ASCO is helping with this in a number of ways, such as the TAPUR protocol — which is trying to see if we can match patients with genetic mutations and drugs — and also trying to look at enhancing clinical trials and biomarkers and presenting all of that information to try to help our patients.

HemOnc Today: With the increasing attention focused on cost of cancer care, what is ASCO’s responsibility to ensure value?

Vose: Value was a really big theme at this year’s meeting, and we all need to think about that when caring for patients. ASCO came out with the value framework manuscript on June 22 in Journal of Clinical Oncology. This is just a framework to try to use this to help physicians talk with patients about the outcomes for care, as well as the side effects and the cost of care. Each individual patient and each individual physician needs to use that when trying to discuss possible therapies. I think we will be seeing this as more of a theme as time goes on, as medications are combined together and as the overall costs continue to increase.

HemOnc Today: What can ASCO membership do to help you succeed and also help the society maximize its potential?

Vose: It’s really helpful if the ASCO members can let us know what’s on their minds — either me personally or through the ASCO website or ASCO office. I have a lot of knowledge about what is happening in my environment, but I need to hear from everyone in different environments about what is going on, what the problems are, and what we could possibly do to help different physicians, practices and patients. ASCO’s members also need to look toward the future of oncology care and research with the ASCO leadership.

HemOnc Today: What are your thoughts on the quality of research presented at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting?

Vose: Each year, the attendance at the ASCO meeting goes up. This year, I understand there were more than 37,000 attendees at this meeting, and that means what we are presenting really matters to people — to the physicians, to the health care providers and to the patients. The quality continues to ratchet up every year. We need to be diverse in the types of research we present, as well as the types of information — not only scientific aspects, but also on the quality of care and value situation. As we continue to diversify, that will increase our knowledge for all patients.

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HemOnc Today: What do you think about the progress in immunotherapy? Is it as promising and potentially transformative as it appears?

Vose: Immunotherapy is really going to be the way of the future, as will targeted agents. Immunotherapy means not only monoclonal antibodies, but also trying to enhance the patient’s immune system with checkpoint inhibitors — which try to modify the patient’s own immune system — and with agents like CAR T cells, as we’re trying to enhance the T cells against the tumor itself. There are a lot of different modalities that are going to harness the patient’s own immune system to help treatment. That’s one of the pathways of the future that are going to be very important for treatment for cancer care.

For more information:

Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, can be reached at 987680 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-7680; email: jmvose@unmc.edu.