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

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The Future of SWOG AYA Efforts

Jun 5, 2015 - Brandon Hayes-Lattin, founding Chair of SWOG's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Committee, is stepping down from that leadership role. There is huge enthusiasm within the Group for efforts to help the AYA population, and I credit him for getting things started. One of the Committee's early successes under Dr. Hayes-Lattin's hand was helping conduct the first Intergroup AYA oncology retreat in Cleveland in late 2013. This plotted a road map for enhancing clinical trial design and accrual for these patients. Subsequently, SWOG has called upon all its disease committees to lower the age of eligibility on clinical trials to 15 years, unless there are compelling biologic reasons to exclude younger patients. We have also added an AYA Committee liaison within most disease committees.

Collaboration has been a key driver of success for our fledgling AYA Committee, and the group continues to work particularly closely with colleagues at the Children's Oncology Group (COG) and at Critical Mass Young Adult Cancer Alliance. Together, the COG and SWOG AYA Committees co-led the establishment of an NCI National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) AYA Working Group, which works to increase enrollment of AYA patients to NCTN studies and to encourage the development of new AYA-relevant trials. In partnership with Critical Mass, the Committee is hosting two strategic AYA meetings in 2015 to map a path for publicly funded AYA research, seek formal data sharing commitments from stakeholders, and convene an AYA Advisory Board.

I have appointed Mark Lewis as new Chair of SWOG's AYA Committee. A medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Lewis has been a vigorous contributor not only to the AYA Committee but also to our Social Media Working Group (and to SWOG's presence across social media) and our Rare Cancers Task Force. He earned his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine and completed a hematology-oncology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic.

I have also asked Rebecca Johnson to serve as Vice-Chair of the Committee. Dr. Johnson has a particular research interest in the use of new media to aid in support and education for AYA patients. Her current post is at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital, a main component of Northwest NCORP. Her NCORP perspective will be invaluable in the continued development of SWOG AYA. Between the two, we have "both directions" well represented -- adults treating AYA, and a leader representative with peds experience.

Finally, Brad Pollock has graciously agreed to act as Senior Advisor to our AYA Committee. Dr. Pollock chairs the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis School of Medicine and is Co-Chair of the NCI's Cancer Care Delivery Research Steering Committee. He also is Principal Investigator of COG's NCORP Research Base grant. His will be a crucial voice in helping guide the maturation of our AYA Committee.

Several SWOG AYA activities are gaining momentum and point to a very productive future for this cross-cutting SWOG committee. We have significant activity bubbling up in acute leukemia in AYAs. SWOG AYA and CCDR are working with COG AYA to forward a formal cancer care delivery and quality protocol. SWOG and ASCO have formalized plans to develop a global guideline set in germ cell tumors as a pilot to develop comprehensive disease specific information sets including pathways and patient tools. We are planning on embedding research hooks to facilitate measurement of dissemination, usability and readability as well as resource-stratified features. SWOG AYA is exploring secondary use of data using resources such as existing mature SWOG clinical trials

We will publicly acknowledge Dr. Hayes-Lattin and his major contributions at the Fall SWOG Group Meeting General Plenary. Today I want to thank him for piloting our AYA initiative through such a successful launch. I look forward to the next phase of this work!


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