"Immunotherapy carries tremendous promise, but there are many more questions than answers at this early stage. It's important for pathologists to know why and when it's given, how often it succeeds and to start to understand why," said Dr. Sholl, assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. "Pathologists need to be involved early and often, and will play an important part in getting the right kinds of tests, and getting the right answers to patients. As with all areas of medicine, collaboration with pathologists will be critical in immunotherapy."
Mr. Nelson, a Boston-area patient, was given about 18 months to live—in 2012. Often bed-ridden and weak after several courses of treatment failed, Mr. Nelson saw immediate and lasting results from an immunotherapy drug, and he credits this therapy and the collaboration of his medical team for his turnaround.
"Like most people, I think, I didn't know anything about the role a pathologist played in my care; but with every test and every sample, there was a pathologist looking after me, making a diagnosis and working with other members of my care team," Mr. Nelson said. "After this experience, I am so grateful that pathologists are so good at what they do—they really make a difference in the quality of care a patient receives."
Mr. Nelson's medical team, like many in the medical community, had been stunned by the success immunotherapy has had on some cancer patients. The Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel Report recently called for a Cancer Immunotherapy Clinical Trials Network to ramp up the study of immunotherapy treatments and results.
"Immunotherapy is among the most exciting weapons against cancer, but there is so much to learn and so much to study to understand why it works for some patients but not for others," said Richard C. Friedberg, MD, PhD, FCAP, president of the CAP. "Collaboration within the health care system is at the heart of what a pathologist does, but it may never be more important than in the advancement of immunotherapy treatment and discoveries. As an organization and as a specialty, we are well positioned to be critical members in this fight against cancer."
Pathologists at CAP16 will also hear a keynote address from Pulitzer Prize-winning author and cancer specialist Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, PhD. An assistant professor of medicine at the Department of Medicine (Oncology) of Columbia University in New York City, Dr. Mukherjee won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. He is also the author of The Gene, the newly published book on the history of genetic research.
CAP16 will be held at the Wynn Las Vegas/Encore hotels in Las Vegas Sept. 25–28. The event will feature more than 1,200 attendees, almost 100 continuing medical education (CME) courses, and presentations of dozens of awards for leaders in health care.
About the College of American Pathologists
As the leading organization for board-certified pathologists, the College of American Pathologists (CAP) serves patients, pathologists, and the public by fostering and advocating excellence in the practice of pathology and laboratory medicine worldwide. With 18,000 physician members, the CAP has led as the gold standard in laboratory accreditation for 50 years with more than 7,600 CAP-accredited laboratories in 50 countries. Find more information about the CAP at cap.org. Follow the CAP on Twitter at @pathologists.
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SOURCE College of American Pathologists