I have spent a long career trying my hardest to provide the cancer patient with the best in standard therapies that we can offer. I have also kept my eyes open to the advances going in research labs to see what benefit might be applicable to my patients. Remarkable advances continue to take place, especially in the last few years, and it is time to bridge the gap between the lab and bring them to the clinic.
As physicians, we know that each tumor is unique. We know that we no longer have to depend on cell lines, and that we can grow most tumors from individual patients in culture. Testing capabilities now are reaching toward industrial scale. Genomic assessment is not enough. Functional testing on living tumor tissue outside of the patient’s body should be a must before we make choices and put drugs and immunotherapies into patients’ bodies.
I think most physicians reading this will agree that we have been stymied in so many ways in providing innovation to our patients. Our mission at SpeciCare is to provide individual patient and physician access to these remarkable advances. Finally, the gulf between research and clinical care is narrow enough for us in the clinical cancer care community to reach across and bring these innovations to the clinic where the doctor and the patient live.
Please consider this opportunity to provide benefit to our patients beyond the “standard of care.” If what we are offering here – saving tumor tissue, providing access to trials and innovative therapies, doing our best to bridge that gulf — makes sense to you; if you would offer these services to your spouse or your family members, please offer them to your patients as well. We can step up and make a difference. It is time.
Ken Dixon, MD, FACS