"I Think We Should Get a Second Opinion"

"I Think We Should Get a Second Opinion"

Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMedSc, FASCO

Aug 24, 2016

“I think we should get a second opinion.”

This phrase is no doubt familiar to you. You’ve heard a patient or caregiver say it to you. You’ve said it to a patient. You’ve said it to your own physician, or to a physician on behalf of an ill loved one.

It’s abundantly clear that more heads are better than one when it comes to cancer care, and that working together as a team of experts (including the patient, who is the expert on their life) leads to the best outcomes.

Now imagine a world in which—instead of just a second opinion—you could rely on the expertise of every oncology practice and institution around the country. A world in which every patient’s experience informs the care of the individual person sitting in front of you.

That thought experiment is quickly becoming a reality thanks to CancerLinQ™. Sixty-five practices and institutions in the United States are currently using ASCO’s big data platform and drawing from its aggregated information to make personalized treatment decisions. The system is poised to grow substantially over the coming year, enabling new discoveries in the fight against cancer.

Though incredible progress has been made in the more than 50 years since our Society was founded, still we are confronted by diseases that do not respond to our best treatments, and by people whom we cannot save. We need more information. More collaboration. A bigger team. I am eager to see CancerLinQ grow and to put it to work in the service of my own patients.

Speaking of teams, I am excited to welcome a number of expert contributors and leaders to the latest issue of ASCO Connection.

Dr. Bruce E. Johnson, who is the current ASCO President-Elect, describes some of the highlights of his volunteer service and his goals for his 2017-2018 Presidential term.

In our Current Controversies in Oncology column, Dr. Bruce D. Minsky and Dr. Bengt Glimelius closely examine evidence for and against adjuvant treatment for R0, tumor-free rectal carcinoma following neoadjuvant treatment. Dr. Bertram Wiedenmann offers a succinct outline of the issue in his introduction.

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi gives a candid, insightful interview on medicine, mortality, and meaning. When Breath Becomes Air, by her late husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, was the subject of this year’s ASCO Book Club session at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

For early-career readers, our series on job interviewing skills continues in this issue with practical guidance on negotiating your contract, courtesy of Dr. Filipa Lynce. Dr. Rawad Elias shares a personal perspective on working with elderly patients as a young professional, and demonstrates that age is truly just a number. We also catch up with ASCO’s first Health Policy Fellows, Dr. Robert M. Daly and Dr. Steve Y. Lee—applications for the second year of the program will open in October 2016.

I also extend the warmest congratulations, on behalf of myself and the Editorial Board, to Dr. Anne Katz, whose blog on ASCOconnection.org has been recognized with a 2016 APEX Award—a well-deserved honor! I encourage you to visit our website to read and comment on the many wonderful posts contributed by our talented bloggers. Thank you, as always, for reading.

Originally published in ASCO Connection, September 2016 "Letter From the Editor"


The ideas and opinions expressed on the ASCO Connection Blogs do not necessarily reflect those of ASCO. None of the information posted on ASCOconnection.org is intended as medical, legal, or business advice, or advice about reimbursement for health care services. The mention of any product, service, company, therapy or physician practice on ASCOconnection.org does not constitute an endorsement of any kind by ASCO. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of the material contained in, posted on, or linked to this site, or any errors or omissions.

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