Overcoming the Challenges of Cancer CareJuly 29, 2022
In this video, Eric Winer, MD, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), outlines current challenges in cancer care and the resources ASCO offers both clinicians and patients. Winer also is the director of Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Network, both in New Haven, Connecticut.
The following is a transcript of his remarks:
As the incoming president, my goals and priorities really line up with ASCO’s overall goals.
ASCO has three pillars in the mission: research, education, and quality. And they’re all important. We do research, we fund research, we’re known more than anything else for the educational opportunities we provide to people, both in terms of meetings and publications and websites and what have you.
And finally, we are totally focused on quality. Of course, as part of that, the focus that ASCO has on equity and diversity and inclusion is really, I think, unparalleled by almost any other organization.
I immediately thought of two items, but there’s a big third as well. So of course, the first is we still don’t have optimal treatment for everyone. There are many individuals who still both suffer and die from cancer, and we need better treatments. We’ve come a long way in the last decade. The rate of change and the acceleration in progress has been huge, but we still have a long way to go.
Second, as I was talking about a few minutes ago, we have to make sure we deliver the care and the cures to everybody in an equitable way so that there aren’t pockets of individuals, and we know at the moment there are many such pockets, where care is not delivered.
Third, I think we do have in the United States in general and oncology in particular — maybe not in particular, but in oncology as well — a crisis around how both patients and doctors interact with one another. The electronic medical record is a wonderful thing, but it has led to doctors and other clinicians spending huge amounts of time documenting and not being face-to-face with patients. I think as a result of that, there has been some loss in the joy of being a clinician, which then affects patients.
Actually my theme this year in ASCO is partnering with patients — the cornerstone of clinical care and research. What I hope to do is to help people feel that joy of practicing medicine and caring for patients with cancer and doing cancer research that I think for some has been lost.
I don’t think that everyone appreciates quite the extent, the breadth, and the depth, of the educational resources that ASCO has both for clinicians — and when we talk about clinicians, we’re talking about physicians and nurse practitioners and pharmacists, and the whole range of clinicians that care for patients with cancer — but also, these educational resources are available to patients as well. I think that, unless one really starts to dig, you don’t realize quite how incredible these resources are.