The investment in basic research over the last twenty-five years has led to an explosion of new agents and approaches to cancer treatment. The current unprecedented pace of discovery of novel targets and tools beyond the usual DNA damaging agents has the potential to revolutionize the early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer. However, many of the most recently approved agents and approaches have not been widely applied to patients in the community who may benefit from their use. This lack of penetrance into medical practice has a wide range of causes.
One contributing factor is the absence of practical and usable information on the new findings. The primary literature is not particularly clear on how the results of a large multicenter study might be optimally applied to an individual patient. Furthermore, the patients who meet eligibility for clinical trials often do not resemble the patient who presents to the physician; our patients are often older and sicker than those who make it on to large studies. What is the physician to do? How does someone who is ten years out of training acquire a feeling of comfort with the new agents and their distinctive idiosyncrasies, their common toxicities, their uncommon side effects? Certainly, the pace of discovery is too rapid for standard textbooks to keep up. The realities of book publishing are that the new medicine or oncology text that was published in August 2006 with a 2007 copyright was actually written early in 2005.
Thus, it is our hope that the new series Hot Topics in Oncology will become a tool that makes the reader an instant expert able to apply the most recent advances to the benefit of his/her own patients.
With this program, we are choosing topics where recent progress appears to have altered the standard of practice. These important changes in oncology practice are published in the form of small-sized booklets that are easy to read, but our goal is to make them comprehensive. Authors are chosen from among the leading specialists in the field with practical experience to share with our readers. We are aiming for a tone that is authoritative without being authoritarian or doctrinaire. Yet individual personal judgments can be helpful when extrapolating existing data to previously unstudied clinical situations.
The topics are "hot" because they cover recent changes in this dynamic field of medical oncology. Each topic will be covered from the perspective of the basic science and the translation to clinical application. The picture of cancer that began as a rough outline vaguely out of focus is becoming a sharper image with specific details. The new knowledge allows us to design more rational and effective approaches to diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Our goal is to facilitate the rapid mastery of the new knowledge and its prudent application to the relevant medical problems. We hope that "Hot Topics" will become a regular and anticipated companion to the practicing physician and a valued source of credible information easily consumed and assimilated.
Dr. Longo’s work as editor of this publication was performed outside the scope of his role as a U.S. Government employee. This work represents his personal and professional views and not necessarily those of the U.S. Government. He is responsible for the editorial content of the publication and has not been influenced by any commercial interest in the preparation of this work. He has no conflicts of interest to declare.
The material was prepared without input or approval by any drug company.