Interdisciplinary Care of Cancer

Interdisciplinary Care of Cancer

Don S. Dizon, MD, FACP, FASCO

Jul 19, 2011
I recently returned from the semi-annual meeting of the Gynecologic Oncology Group, where the charge is to develop and test new treatment strategies in gynecologic malignancies. In the time I have been involved with the group, I have witnessed paradigm shifts in the treatment of women’s cancers from the adoption of cisplatin-based chemoradiation in cervical cancer to the utilization of chemotherapy in high-risk endometrial cancer, and the adoption of intraperitoneal chemotherapy for treating ovarian cancer.

It has been an exciting time to be a medical gynecologic oncologist, but what I like most about being a part of this cooperative group is the shared spirit of camaraderie between those of us who have dedicated a large part of their careers in this field. Treating gynecologic malignancies has never been the domain of one specialty—although gynecologic oncologists are very well trained to deliver both medical and surgical care to their patients, care of these patients has relied upon the collaboration between others as well, whether it be medical oncology or radiation oncology, or, especially with rare tumors, the contribution of gynecologic pathologists.

In this way, gynecologic oncology has been the real trailblazer for “interdisciplinary” care. This is truly symbolized in the Gynecologic Oncology Group, where the chairs of each committee are more often than not representative of varied disciplines, from Dr. Wui-Jin Koh, a radiation oncologist, and Dr. Bradley Monk, a gynecologic oncologist, who head the Cervix Committee, to Drs. Carol Aghajanian and Paula Fracasso, both medical oncologists, and Robert Burger, a gynecologic oncologist, who provide leadership in the Developmental Therapeutics and Phase I/II Committee. As treatment paradigms become more complicated, especially with the investigation of pathway-targeted treatments, it is more important than ever that those of us who treat cancer learn the art and spirit of cross collaboration. It is an important means of providing quality cancer care and is an imperative across different cancer types beyond just gynecologic oncology.

In this, my initial blog for ASCO, I wanted to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary care in oncology. I’d be interested to hear about the successes and challenges of collaboration experienced in the field at large, beyond the walls of the Cooperative Group, and within both academic and community practices.


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Robert Allen Burger, MD

Aug, 05 2011 8:39 AM

Thanks for honoring the efforts of the Gynecologic Oncology Group in your first blog. I believe that the spirit of collaboration and mentorship has led to many of the successes which have led to improvements in survival and quality of life for the women we serve. I know that even with the recent economic meltdown we will persevere. Bob

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