There are many overwhelming aspects to a new diagnosis of cancer, and one of the key ones is the range of health care professionals involved in cancer care. On the plus side, it’s helpful that cancer now typically involves a team of people with complementary roles and skills, but it can be hard to keep track of who does what. Here’s a link to a post I did for LUNGevity at their request, describing the roles of the most common players on the team of professionals working with a patient being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The cast of characters is pretty similar for other cancer types as well, except that someone like a gastroenterologist replaces the role of the pulmonologist for someone with a suspected colon cancer, a urologist (a surgical specialist in the genitourinary system) replaces the thoracic surgeon for someone with a suspected bladder cancer, etc. But the general rule always applies that especially for a role like a surgeon or radiation oncologist, where technique is a critical element, outcomes tend to be best for those who are more specialized and experienced.
Our webinar with Dr. Suresh Ramalingam, Director of Hematology & Oncology at Emory and Chair of the ECOG Lung Cancer Committee, closed with a question and answer session that covered some of the emerging challenges of doing trials in a new era of molecular oncology. The division of a big field like lung cancer into many subgroups, including some small ones like the 4% with an ALK rearrangement and perhaps even 1-3% populations with others on the horizon, has led to many of our greatest advances in the past 5-10 years. It has also, however, introduced new challenges, as we try to do studies of relatively rare patients who are geographically dispersed and often won’t have an available trial for them that is conveniently located nearby?
How will the field of oncology adapt? Dr. Ramalingam offers his insights in the following podcast, offered in audio form, along with the transcript for the program (because there really isn’t anything visual in this part, there’s no real video to see — it’s just converted into a video format as part of the subscription channel for those people who have an automated feed to all of our video podcasts).