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Members of the Oncology Times Editorial Board were asked for their predictions of the most significant advancements in oncology over the next three to five years.

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Joseph S. Bailes, MD

Partner, Texas Oncology Chairman, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Foundation


"Immuno-oncology therapies in hematologic and solid tumors will result in improved survival. Alternative care delivery and payment models will be an increasing model of care delivery in oncology. As well, the importance of patient-reported outcomes and experiences in daily care and clinical trial design will increase and help to enhance patient-centric approaches."


Paul A. Bunn, Jr., MD

Executive Director International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer; James Dudley Endowed Professor of Lung Cancer Research, University of Colorado


"Early detection and therapeutic decisions from molecular analysis of blood will make the biggest impact on cancer mortality. Cancer mortality rates can be reduced by prevention, early detection, and treatment. Although my major interests are in new therapies, I think the analysis of circulating DNA will lead to major advances in identifying patients at risk for cancer to improve the early detection and prevention efforts that have made major impacts on mortality rates for some cancers already.


"In therapy, I believe combinations of molecular therapies and combinations of immunotherapies will lead to major improvements in survival in many cancers."


Joyce Hendershott, MSW, ACSW, LISW-S

Former OT Editorial Board Member (2010-2015); Associate Director Patient Education Department The James Cancer Hospital & Solove Research Institute of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center


"Big data in cancer care is of importance. The last decade has seen huge advances in the amount of data we routinely generate and collect in about every aspect of what we do, including our ability to use technology to analyze and understand it. According to Bernard Marr, author of Big Data, 'The intersection of these trends is what is called 'big data' and it is helping businesses in every industry to become more efficient and productive. Big data in health care is being used to predict epidemics, cure disease, improve quality of life, and avoid preventable deaths. Many of the decisions related to the changes in treatment delivery models are driven by data.'


"As well, Dr. Jay Schnitzer of MITRE Corporation presented the keynote session at the recent C-Change Annual Conference and focused on the components of big data-volume, velocity, and variety. He emphasized the systems approach, with patients being at the center and movement away from linear thinking."


Joseph V. Simone, MD

President, Simone Consulting


"I don't know what will happen tomorrow, much less three to five years from now, but if I were to guess based on the intensity of the science, I think cellular therapy would be a reasonable guess. The technology for growing stem cells in vitro has been moving ahead rapidly. This could enable the infusion of modified stem cells that can attack cancer cells preferentially with fewer side effects and a more focused attack. Cell therapy is rapidly evolving, and I anticipate that in that time frame of three to five years, there will be many new cell therapy protocols and trials."


Paul A. Volberding, MD

Director AIDS Research Institute University of California, San Francisco; Director of Research UCSF Global Health Sciences


"I'm really excited by immuno-oncology. The first few checkpoint inhibitors appear to be only the start of a series of related pathways to explore. I'm especially interested in the possibility that these approaches will have the potential to help the immune system deal with the residual malignant cell burden following primary treatment and allow us to cure many more cancers that are otherwise destined to recur. I believe the utility of checkpoint inhibitors as cures in advanced malignancies will be more of a challenge, although they will certainly have a therapeutic role in an expanding range of tumor types."


Carolyn Weaver, RN, MSN, AOCN, AHN-BC

Oncology Clinical Nurse Educator Quintiles


"I would say personalized medicine-looking at the genetic makeup of each cancer-has the greatest potential, with immunotherapy a close second."


Robert C. Young, MD

President, RCY Medicine Emeritus Chancellor, Fox Chase Cancer Center


"I believe that the most significant advance in oncology in the next three to five years is unknown and unknowable-a wild card, if you will. What we anticipate when we look ahead is the incremental progress that we can predict from what we already know. Transformational advances come suddenly and revolutionize our thinking, allowing us to look at old problems with new vision.


"A perfect example is the transformation in immunotherapy. For the last 60 or more years, immunotherapy has been the tantalizing idea that never quite delivered on its promise. Then, fundamental science emerged that taught us about cancer's tools for blocking the body's immune responses. This led to the checkpoint inhibitors, which have dramatically changed oncology and patient care. Another such wildcard is out there waiting to be found."