Message from the Chairman

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December 21, 2015
Japan Society of Clinical Oncology
Yuko Kitagawa, Chairman

During the early 1980s, oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes were discovered in succession, and some scientists even predicted at that time that cancer would be totally controllable in the 21st century.

Now that more than thirty years have passed, we have come to realize that the way to conquer cancer is not simple enough to be directly led by the discoveries of oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes. On the other hand, the concept of “individualized cancer treatment,” which had already emerged at that time, has been further evolving into “precision medicine.” Missile therapy, which was only at an experimental stage in the early 1980s, has achieved rapid advancement and widespread use as a molecular targeted therapy, and immunotherapy is ascending to a new development stage. Currently, a big challenge lies in formulating how the vast body of genome information relevant to biological malignancy and therapeutic response should be organized and disseminated. As such, cancer treatment is entering into a borderless phase where treatments are classified not by organ or organ area but by gene and molecular profile.

Having more than 17,000 members, the Japan Society of Clinical Oncology (JSCO) is the largest clinical oncology organization in Japan. It covers diverse medical specialties and professional categories, and is highly regarded for providing a platform for multi-disciplinary medical treatment, research, and human resource development answering the needs of the times. The Society has carried out academic research and educational activities from multidisciplinary and cross-professional standpoints, and it continues to actively address issues that are considered too difficult for a specialized academic society covering any single specific field to handle.

One of these issues is standardizing and making consistent, regardless of cancer region, the Japanese classifications of cancers, which are currently stipulated by cancer region. Promoting cancer registries in the National Clinical Database is another example. We consider these to be important challenges the Society should focus on because of its multidisciplinary and comprehensive nature.

In order to ensure proper conduct of clinical research and to make it beneficial for people’s welfare, the Society set up a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator System to train not only physicians and researchers but also other professional staff involved in clinical trials. The Society is committed to contributing even more to national welfare through activities including projects to publicize, assess and develop clinical practice guidelines for oncology, through which rapidly advancing and increasingly complex cancer-related information is objectively sorted; and projects to train Certified Cancer Care Network Navigators, who deliver information to individuals about clinical cancer treatment in the local community.

As you are already aware, humanity has not yet won the fight against cancer in the fifteen years since the 21st century began, but rather is in an era in which one out of two people will be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime. Today 70% of cancer patients can survive with some type of treatment. In order to support these survivors in coping with the long remainder of their lives, all medical professionals together with patients themselves need to address survivorship issues. From these points of view, we believe it is important to consider patient advocacy leadership and the various problems faced by children and adolescents with cancer. Among cancer prevention activities, which will receive greater attention in the future, “cancer prevention education starting from elementary school age” will be an extremely significant theme in the long term. The Society will continue to take an active role in these areas in collaboration with the Japan National Committee for UICC.

In recent years, medical cancer treatment and research have rapidly become more globalized. Former chairman, Professor Nishiyama strengthened partnerships with global leading academic associations including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). In addition, he established the Federation of Asian Clinical Oncology (FACO) with Korean and Chinese counterparts to formulate the basic grounds for promotion of clinical research centered on the Asian region. This activity has finally begun, and we will steadily proceed with international cooperation towards implementation of clinical research focusing on priority Asian issues.

The Society’s long tradition and its accomplishments through the efforts of past chairmen, officers and members are greatly respected by the public which continues to have high expectations.

To meet these expectations, we will enhance the Society’s strong financial base and organizational structures, and conduct activities in steady and stable ways. I sincerely thank you all and request your kind support and cooperation in these future endeavors.