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

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Heading into San Francisco, Our Science is Strong

April 22, 2016 - I’m gearing up for next week’s spring meeting, excited to hang up the conference calls (literally) and talk with you all face-to-face. The prep work has inspired me. Whether it’s reviewing our major clinical trials under the watch of the data safety and monitoring committee, or preparing an update for The Hope Foundation board, I am pleased to report SWOG is going strong, and is, I believe, on the right track.

And I’m talking here about our core mission – conceiving and conducting meaningful cancer clinical trials. (I resisted the urge to say impactful. But many will have impact).

Scores of SWOG members and advocates just wrapped up five days at the annual American Association of Cancer Research meeting, where members made three presentations. And SWOG research underpinned many more. At AACR, for example, an abstract showed that data from S8897 uncovered two new genetic chemotherapy predictive markers in breast cancer. That trial closed 23 years ago – and it’s still creating important insights!

Meanwhile, our American Society of Clinical Oncologists presentation tally just came in. In June, SWOG members will present 21 abstracts, 11 from SWOG-led trials. These include results on treatments for a diverse range of malignancies, and compelling prevention and quality of life results.

In New Orleans this week, Vice President Joe Biden, commander of the cancer “moonshot,” looked out onto the AACR crowd and said: “There is more brain power in this room than exists in many countries. And we need you. You’re the very best we have.” I truly feel the same way about SWOG. Our group includes some of the best minds in cancer science and medicine – and many will be with us in San Francisco, including but certainly not limited to Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi, former ASCO president and our breast committee chair, to Dr. Antoni Ribas, our melanoma chair and an international leader in immunotherapy – who just published another major article, in JAMA this week.

So in San Francisco, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary and our past, let’s also celebrate the present. It’s pretty good.

If you want to go mobile at the meeting – and get the schedule, maps, reminders and more on your smart phone – download the guidebook meeting app. And please feel free to come up and let me know how you think things are going for SWOG. I look forward to seeing you.


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