Sep 18, 2019
By Alex Carolan, ASCO Publishing
As part of ASCO’s commitment to improving cancer care delivery and outcomes around the world, it publishes the Journal of Global Oncology (JGO). JGO Editorial Board member Lawrence N. Shulman, MD, has been a proponent of global thinking and global action throughout his career. Dr. Shulman, the director of the Center for Global Cancer Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, received the 2019 ASCO Humanitarian Award for his work with patients in Rwanda, Haiti, and Botswana who have curable cancers.
“JGO has evolved very quickly in a positive way. It takes a while for a journal to become known, recognized, and appreciated by a broad audience. JGO has grown rapidly because information on global cancer care is such a critical need,” Dr. Shulman said.
Your work involves collaboration with colleagues all over the world—how does that sense of partnership extend into the writing process?
LS: What we have done in our work in Rwanda, Haiti, and Botswana, was to be sure that anything we published was a combined effort from our in-country colleagues along with some of us from the United States or other high-income countries.
Many of our colleagues are terrific care providers but have little experience writing for medical journals. Accompanying them in this process was helpful from a structural point of view, as was helping them understand what went into doing a study and writing a manuscript, as well as the technical aspects behind submitting a manuscript online, responding to reviewer comments, and editing then resubmitting the manuscript.
In Rwanda and Haiti, we had formal processes that helped our colleagues learn about the basics behind these issues. If you look at any article we publish in JGO from Rwanda, Botswana, and Haiti, more than half of the authors are colleagues from those countries. That’s been a core principle of ours.
Why should an oncologist in a high-resource country, or someone who doesn’t have a specific interest in global health, add JGO to their regular reading list?
LS: A lot of the issues we bring up in JGO are quite applicable to parts of the United States, where there remain serious health disparities, particularly in cancer. A lot of that is driven by poverty, distance to cancer centers, transportation issues, and so on.
ASCO has focused a great deal over the last year on disparities of cancer care in the United States. There are lessons to be learned from our colleagues in other parts of the world who have tried to overcome some of these obstacles that can translate to our work in the United States.
I live in Philadelphia, and we have a couple areas that are suffering from the same problems. West Philadelphia and Northeast Philadelphia are similar in a lot of ways, and there are lessons to be learned on how to provide quality cancer care, and more accessible cancer care for those living in these areas.
For people just learning about JGO, what are some of the must-read articles from past issues?
LS: A lot of the focus on those working in resource-constrained settings globally and in the United States falls under the heading of implementation science, and there are a lot of important lessons there. Reading these articles very closely and learning from them is key. We wrote a position paper in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2015 about implementation science in resource-constrained settings, and that has been a lot of what JGO is focused on.
What do you envision for the future of JGO?
LS: When you watch the trajectory of the best journals, they become magnets for the best manuscripts. It becomes more challenging to get articles published because the journal is getting so many high-quality submissions—but then they become the place everyone looks to for the most important articles on the subject.