The Quickening Pace of Oncology Research

Author: Rodger J. Winn MD
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One of the hallmarks of the oncology scientific community has been a general reluctance to sensationalize advances. Although the news media tends to blare forth with the breakthrough of the week, or even du jour, investigators reporting results usually cloak them with caution and almost always point to the need for further studies.This is not to say, however, that the oncology community is shrouded in a pall of pessimism. The willingness to treat these devastating diseases and provide compassionate support and hope, grounded in realistic expectations, has earned the specialty the (sometimes begrudging) admiration of non-oncology practitioners. And for many years, one of the precepts that enabled oncologists to provide honest succor to patients was the well-grounded belief that progress was being made, if slowly, in small but well-defined increments.Thus, the breathtaking change in pace we see now in understanding the underlying mechanisms of carcinogenesis and introducing innovative approaches to therapy based on this understanding that now confronts (blesses) the oncology world evokes almost a sense of disbelief. I would guess that, for the past decade, no clinician has left a major meeting thinking, “nothing really new is happening.”Multiple myeloma, highlighted in this issue, may well serve as the cover disease for this remarkable change of pace. When first published, the NCCN Multiple Myeloma Clinical Practice Guidelines rested squarely on standard alkylating agents and corticosteroid treatment or well-tested regimens such as VAD that had been the mainstay of treatment for more than 30 years.Since this initial...

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Rodger J. Winn is the Editor-in-Chief of JNCCN. His past positions include Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Winn received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia. His postgraduate training includes an internship and residency at Jefferson Medical College, and he also completed a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is board certified in internal medicine and holds subspecialty certification in oncology.

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