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The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair

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Spring 2014 SWOG Group Meeting: A view from the floor

May 9, 2014 - SWOG held its Spring 2014 Group Meeting in San Francisco last week. The Plenary sessions and Oishi Symposium, among others, featured outstanding presentations, and you'll hear more about them in the next SWOG Update newsletter. You will also be able to view the recordings on the SWOG website within the next few days. In this blog, I want to let you know about some of the sessions that got less attention but which still generated great enthusiasm and which were no less important in moving the work of SWOG forward -- the design and conduct of clinical trials to improve outcomes for our patients.

Among these sessions was the Surgical Committee Symposium, which brought together for the very first time SWOG surgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and medical oncologists, for a two-hour session on the optimal therapeutic local approach for "escaped" metastatic lesions (aka progressive oligometastases), low burden metastatic disease that appears resistant to standard systemic or targeted systemic therapy. Thought-provoking approaches presented ranged from surgical resection, to stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), to radiofrequency ablation, to the use of radiation/SRS as immune modulation. The symposium was extremely well attended, and the participants will likely use it as a springboard to plan a multi-modality therapeutic protocol.

The Harry E. Hynes CCOP Symposium featured presentations from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and from two leaders of perennial SWOG accrual champion Kaiser Permanente Northern California (the latter on cancer care delivery research in their network). We've gotten multiple requests for slides from these talks, which the presenters have agreed to make available on the SWOG website (you can find them at http://swog.org/Visitors/Spring14GpMtg/hynessymp1405.asp).

Other highlights from the NCORP side of SWOG included the first meeting of the Cancer Care Delivery Committee, formerly Outcomes and Comparative Effectiveness. This proved to be a hot ticket; the session was standing room only. After being postponed because of governmental gridlock in the fall, the inaugural Lori Minasian Lecture in Cancer Control and Prevention was delivered, a masterful presentation by Dr. Minasian herself on bedside perspectives on cancer control and prevention. She has set a very high standard for future presenters, whom will be selected by a committee led by Dr. Frank Meyskens. Specifically on the cancer control and prevention front, we received an update on the S0820 PACES primary prevention trial now underway, which looks to prevent recurrence in those already treated for early colorectal neoplasms or precursors. A just-approved revision to this study lowers an eligibility barrier related to patient cardiovascular risk level, a step expected to allow PACES accrual to soar.

Some of my private meetings (perhaps less private now) of note in San Francisco included three highly rewarding one-on-ones with Drs. Fabian, Hortobagyi, and Wade, as the first round of our Committee Chair 360-degree reviews. We will have several such reviews at each future group meeting.


  • The Veterans Affairs Working Group is assembling a website page of resources to assist members in opening trials at VA sites.
  • The Social Media Working Group has drafted a brief social media policy for SWOG that will help guide us as we continue to grow our efforts using social media to engage members, patients, and public in our clinical trials.
  • The Rare Cancers Task Force will work closely with the Early Therapeutics Committee as a potential home for rare disease proposals that don't fall within the purview of any of our existing research committees.
  • The Pharmaceutical Sciences Committee is working with the Oncology Research Professionals Committee, the Patient Advocates Committee, and our Operations Office to develop drug information handouts for patients as a standard protocol element in trials that include oral investigational agents.

The live semi-annual meetings are a great opportunity to interact with fellow investigators, patient advocates, industry representatives, and others. We always come away with renewed energy and great ideas for moving the Group forward. Thanks to those who were able to attend -- I look forward to the next meeting in Chicago!


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