Pfizer Grant Fosters Sharing Best Practices in Lung Cancer Diagnoses Abroad
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
A year after successfully launching a program in the United States to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with the deadly non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), ASCP is sharing the knowledge it gained with its medical counterparts in Europe.
The original project in the United States sought to identify the best methods to evaluate patients who are suspected to have NSCLC, by defining the molecular biology of the tumor. It revealed wide variability in practice across varying locations, and, in general, suboptimal practices among clinicians across the patient care experience.
“This grant provides for the expansion of the GAIN educational curriculum beyond the United States into Europe. Europe is the logical choice for expansion of the GAIN project because after North America, Europe has the highest incidence and mortality rates for lung cancer.”
—Joel M. Shilling, MD, FASCP
Both the original project and the latest initiative have been funded with grants from the Pfizer Foundation. The newest endeavor, EnGAging an Interdisciplinary Team for NSCLC Diagnosis, Personalized Assessment and Treatment (GAIN): A European Initiative, is a collaboration between the American College of Chest Physicians, the France Foundation, and ASCP, which is a subcontractor.
“This grant provides for the expansion of the GAIN educational curriculum beyond the United States into Europe,” says ASCP President Joel M. Shilling, MD, FASCP. “Europe is the logical choice for expansion of the GAIN project because after North America, Europe has the highest incidence and mortality rates for lung cancer.”
Lung cancer is the most common cancer-related death in Europe as well as in North America. More than 375,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed every year in the European Union, with only a 30-percent survival rate a year after the initial diagnosis. GAIN aims to change those grim statistics and vastly improve patient outcomes.
A key component for the successful funding for the project was ASCP’s collaboration with the European Society for Pathology (ESP), the leading pathology society in Europe. ASCP Executive Vice President E. Blair Holladay, PhD, SCT(ASCP)CM credits Shiwen Song, MD, PhD, ASCP Chief Science Officer, as “the lynchpin in securing this relationship. His guidance was critical to ASCP being chosen to receive this funding.”
Engaging a prominent European organization such as ESP offers the possibility of additional partnerships and sharing of scientific knowledge in the future. Europe has approximately 20,000 licensed pathologists, whereas the United States has 16,000 licensed pathologists.
Over the two years of the grant, ASCP will provide educational design, measurement, and evaluation services. The GAIN curriculum is designed to improve the knowledge, competence, and performance of an interdisciplinary team comprising pulmonologists, pathologists, oncologists, and thoracic surgeons.
The variances in practice that were discovered in the U.S. program included referral to differing specialists, knowledge, collection of adequate tissue specimens using current techniques (including bronchoscopy), and choices and performance of assessment of tissue samples to provide information essential for proper treatment. An initial assessment revealed similar issues, such as appropriate collection of tissue samples, in European countries.
The European GAIN initiative is the third in a series of grants from the Pfizer Foundation pertaining to NSCLC. The second, EMPOWER, disseminates the knowledge from the original GAIN project in five major health systems throughout the United States. The most recent Pfizer grant, submitted by ASCP’s Continuing and Professional Development Division, is the sixth grant the division has secured this year, totaling $1.6 million. Dr. Holladay praised the leadership of Suzanne Ziemnik, MEd, ASCP Vice President for Continuing Professional Development, and her staff for their efforts to secure the grants.