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

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Flying the NCTN Flag

Jul 3, 2015 - Notice anything different with this issue? Look up! We're not alone on the masthead.

We are adding our National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) badge to all our Front Line posts (as well as to a variety of other SWOG communications) to show that SWOG is part of a team. As you know, we're one of five U.S. cooperative groups that design and conduct rigorous, international clinical trials to prevent and more effectively treat cancer, as well as to improve cancer care. The National Clinical Trials Network -- including from the U. S. SWOG, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, NRG Oncology, and the Children's Oncology Group -- is bound by mission and by means of support. We all receive significant funding from the National Cancer Institute, which created the NCTN last year as a new, improved version of its long-standing Cooperative Group program. It has, at its heart, collaboration among clinical investigators and between basic and clinical researchers. Collaboration is a cornerstone of medical research -- and of all science. In the age of precision medicine, collaboration has never been more important.

To wit: while we still need to enroll large number of patients and healthy volunteers onto trials, in order to test targeted treatments, especially within small subsets of even common tumors, we need to screen even larger numbers of patients. To get there, the NCTN is engaging many community hospitals/practices and academic medical centers in its new structure, as well as expanding access to the network's tissue and data banks. The NCI is also partnering more than ever with industry and with the public. SWOG's groundbreaking Lung-MAP trial for squamous cell lung cancer, for example, involves five pharmaceutical company partners and eight lung cancer advocacy groups, as well as the FNIH and Friends of Cancer Research. That kind of partnership is crucial for enrolling 10,000 patients -- the Lung-MAP goal. We tip our hat to another new precision medicine partnership looking to make a difference in those with lung cancer: the Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trials (ALCHEMIST) led by ECOG-ACRIN and the Alliance.

SWOG‘s leadership is committed to collaboration -- within SWOG, within the NCTN, and potentially with anyone in the cancer research community. Effectively treating cancer, and preventing it, requires all the minds and money we can muster. It also requires public support. We need the public to understand what we do, to get involved in our work, and to lobby for adequate federal funding for our work.

So, how does the NCTN badge connect to all this verbiage? Building that support is the intent behind the badge. The NCI wants the public to know that, whether they're reading about an exciting new NRG trial or unexpected new findings from COG, progress in cancer care is coming from the same research network. There may be lots of dots, but they're all connected; the badge serves as visual proof.

That's why the NCTN badge is up on the SWOG website, and now on this newsletter. You can also look for it soon on our letterhead, our presentation slides, and many other places where the SWOG logo is featured.

When it comes to beating cancer, we need to band together. And fly the flag. Happy Fourth!


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