publication date: Jan. 5, 2018
Introducing the clinical section of The Cancer Letter
By Paul Goldberg
Today’s issue of The Cancer Letter contains a new section devoted to clinical news.
As part of our new format, stories that have immediate clinical significance will appear in every issue, much like a sports or business section in a newspaper.
I define the word “clinical” broadly, as information you can use RIGHT NOW. This definition includes population sciences, prevention, epidemiology, trial design, electronic medical record, data mining, and privacy issues.
Here is the editorial rule of thumb: a story about NCI funding trends, or evolution of FDA approval criteria, or a 5,000-word piece about a cancer center will still go into the front section of The Cancer Letter.
However, if a story is of immediate practical importance—a drug winding toward approval, a trial you can offer to a patient, or a debate raging within a subspecialty, it goes into the clinical section. And, instead of getting clinical news monthly, you will get it every week.
Journalism is not about compilation of fact. It’s about understanding what really matters. It’s also about convening—understanding what people are arguing about, and making those arguments more informed, more spirited.
In this issue, we introduce a guest column titled “Trials & Tribulations.” I have invited the NCTN groups, cancer centers, patient advocacy groups and NCI to provide perspective pieces, and I look forward to seeing this part of coverage evolve. If you haven’t heard from me in recent weeks, let me hear from you. I am easy to reach: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cancer Letter was founded 44 years ago by Jerry Boyd, a medical journalist and a visionary of this field. Three years later—that’s 41 years ago—Jerry founded The Clinical Cancer Letter, to serve community docs, who at the time were a very different group than academics.
Four decades ago, it was possible to delineate the clinical news from the political. Today, this line is porous. This convergence of two oncologies driven by patient expectations, increasing complexity and expense of novel therapies, Big Data, emergence of immunologic and precision therapies, and increasing reliance on biomarkers. It’s all one big story of systemic change, and The Cancer Letter has been on top of it.
Major cancer centers are building outreach networks into the community, getting access to patients living thousands of miles away. Some of these networks are being constructed in pursuit of academic goals. Others are built for business reasons. A new breed of cancer centers is trying to combine the best features of academia and community, and—separately—NCI is reaching out to accelerate clinical research at community clinics around the U.S. As a result, patients are being matched with treatments most likely to help them.
The Clinical Cancer Letter, which came out monthly, will now become a section in The Cancer Letter.
Here is what the change will mean to our subscribers:
Institutional subscriptions and their prices remain unchanged.
Individual subscribers will be prompted to switch to the combined package of The Cancer Letter and The Clinical Cancer Letter when their subscriptions come up for renewal.
By becoming a part of The Cancer Letter, The Clinical Cancer Letter will bring a new clinical focus—and a new urgency—to the combined publication.
If we do our job well—and I will see to it that we will—the new iteration of The Cancer Letter will usher in a unified oncology, where all the key players speak the same language, where silos are rare, and where all players are communicating with each other.