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The Front Line
The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair
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Integrating our Patient Advocates

Aug 23, 2013 - SWOG's ultimate goal is improving the lives of cancer patients. To do this most effectively, we need to listen to our patients at all stages of research design and execution. To that end, we have taken several steps to more fully and effectively integrate patient advocates into the Group's work, making certain that scientific questions and trial protocols take into account their interests, needs, and concerns.

First, I have appointed a patient advocate representative to my Executive Advisory Committee -- my cabinet -- which meets weekly via web conference call. In a parallel effort with our review process, we are finalizing a template for bringing structured input from the appropriate disease committee patient advocate into every clinical trial concept presented for review on our weekly "triage" call.

Next, we are fortifying our process for recruiting patient advocates. We have openings right now in several of our committees and are working with the National Cancer Institute's Office of Advocacy Relations, and consulting some leading advocacy organizations, to identify the best candidates for those positions. The best candidates are those who know a great deal about their disease process beyond simply their own experience, who understand the standard of care treatments in their disease area, and who have deep roots in advocacy and survivor groups and can act as liaison between SWOG and those communities. I am proud to say those helping SWOG achieve its mission truly meet those criteria.

Our patient advocates are vital partners in selecting, designing, and conducting trials that will be clinically relevant and important to those with cancer and their friends and loved ones. I look forward to further enhancing their involvement with SWOG.


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