139th National Cancer Advisory Board
breast and colorectal cancers conducted in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Rand organization. The survey, which included 61 quality measures, was completed and analyzed and the results were presented at the 2005 annual meeting. The results demonstrated that the quality of cancer care overall was higher than previously thought, but areas were identified where improvement was needed and possible. Dr. Hortobagyi explained that the ASCO-NCCN quality measures were derived from the NICCQ initiative. Three breast cancer quality measures and four in the area of colorectal cancer have been identified as major determinants of outcome in those diseases. These quality measures were published online, and ASCO will pilot their use and promote their implementation in future activities. ASCO also participates in the Cancer Quality Alliance through a committee chaired by Dr. Patricia Ganz, ASCO Board member. Alliance initiatives include the dissemination of information to the public, policymakers, commercial and public payers, patients, and survivors. Another ASCO quality initiative is the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI), which is based on ASCO-NCCN quality measures and provided as an online self-assessment program for community practices. Additional uses of QOPI data are being explored.
To address concerns about health disparities, a task force of volunteers was created within ASCO to explore health disparities and define strategies for overcoming them. As a result of task force activities, the educational content of various ASCO meetings and publications has been enhanced to highlight health disparities and the opportunities for improvement in this area. In addition, the development of a YIA and a CDA was approved this year to focus specifically on health disparities and encourage research to improve this problem. ASCO also is a member of the American Medical Association Commission to End Health Disparities.
Acting on the conviction that efforts in cancer prevention are important to move the field forward, ASCO created a freestanding Cancer Prevention Committee in 2002. The Committee promotes increased integration of cancer prevention science into all ASCO educational content and publications, and a track that emphasizes cancer prevention activities has been created within the ASCO annual meeting. Other cancer prevention initiatives include a survey among U.S. and international members of ASCO focused on cancer genetics; the development of a cancer genetics curriculum, which will form one of the bases for future cancer prevention activities; and the creation of a cancer prevention and control curriculum. One objective of these activities is to ensure the appropriate reimbursement for clinical prevention services. Dr. Hortobagyi stated that ASCO collaborates with other tobacco control coalitions to advocate for tobacco control. The ASCO tobacco control policy statement was updated in 2003 and calls for rapid worldwide reduction and ultimate elimination of tobacco products and their use. ASCO is engaged in further enhancing its tobacco control efforts and identifying proven educational programs and practical tools to assist oncologists in working with their patients on the cessation of tobacco use.
In the area of education and training, Dr. Hortobagyi highlighted the Methods in Clinical Cancer Research workshop held annually in association with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), with partial support from the NCI. This week-long course emphasizes individual mentorship and presents all of the basic information needed for development of effective clinical trials. At the end of the week, participants are required to have a fully developed clinical trial that is reviewed and approved by their mentors. Each year, about 75 fellows and 25 junior faculty members are trained in this program. A similar program is conducted annually in Europe in collaboration with AACR and the Federation of European Cancer Societies. In addition, ASCO was involved in the intellectual input and structure of a methods workshop held this year for the first time in the Australia-Pacific basin. For the first time this year, ASCO is participating as a sponsor, together with the NCI and the European Organization for Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), of the international Biomarkers Meeting to be held this year in the United States.