First Journal Devoted to Global Oncology Launched

Roxanne Nelson, RN, BSN

October 02, 2015

The inaugural articles have now been published in the Journal of Global Oncology, the first journal to look at worldwide issues.

Although some journals publish special issues and sections that focus on global oncology, there are currently no journals dedicated to this area of research. The Journal of Global Oncology, launched by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), will focus exclusively on cancer research, treatment, and the delivery of care in middle- and low-resource countries with per capita gross national incomes between $1000 and $12,000. The open-access journal will be online only.

The founding editor-in-chief is David Kerr MD, DSc, professor of cancer medicine at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and an honorary consultant medical oncologist at Oxford University Hospitals Trust. He is past-president of the European Society of Oncology, cofounder of Africa Oxford Cancer Foundation, and a regular Medscape blogger.

"I am proud to announce the publication of the first articles accepted to JGO, which highlight significant care issues under challenging circumstances, from oncology treatment to pathology support," Dr Kerr said in a statement. "These articles exemplify the journal's commitment to providing a peer-review platform for literature that focuses on the care of patients with cancer in low- and middle-income countries."

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, nearly 70% of the global burden of cervical cancer occurs in areas with lower levels of development, and more than one-fifth of all new cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in India, as reported by Medscape Medical News.

The burden of cervical cancer is also notable in sub-Saharan Africa, where 34.8 cases per 100,000 women are diagnosed annually, and there are 22.5 deaths per 100,000 women. In contrast, in North America, 6.6 cases per 100,000 women are diagnosed annually, and there are 2.5 deaths per 100,000 women

"The Journal of Global Oncology will fulfill a growing need in clinical oncology literature by providing a peer-review platform for authors to publish research on the array of challenges that low- and middle-income countries face in conducting research and caring for patients with cancer," ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FASCO, said in a statement.

Previews From the First Issue

The journal is the result of a partnership between ASCO and the Union for International Cancer Control. Among the first seven articles, published on September 23, are original research, commentaries, and review articles.

One original report is a multicenter trial conducted in India on the use of concurrent chemoradiation in cervical cancer. The overwhelming majority (84.3%) of cervical cancer cases occur in the developing world.

There are about 94,000 new cases diagnosed each year in India, say the authors, led by Ambakumar Nandakumar, MD, from the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research in Karnataka, India.

Dr Nandakumar's team looked at patterns of treatment in more than 7000 patients from 12 centers, and found that only 55.5% received optimal radiotherapy and only 44.0% received concurrent chemoradiation. Survival was significantly better in patients who received concurrent chemoradiation than in those who received radiation therapy alone. On the basis of these findings, they conservatively estimate that each year, 38,771 Indian women with cervical cancer do not get the benefit of concurrent chemoradiation and, therefore, have poorer survival.

A review article looks at published data on existing cancer control resources in Africa. It is the first combined effort looking at all resources available on the continent regarding cancer care, according to author Daniela Cristina Stefan, MD, PhD, from the South African Medical Research Council in Cape Town.

She estimates that over the next 5 years, the annual number of cancer cases diagnosed in Africa will surpass 1 million, and notes that the resources available for cancer control are less than adequate in Africa.

There are currently only 102 cancer treatment centers on the continent, which is far from sufficient to cover the increasing needs of Africans affected by cancer, and the continental average total health expenditure per capita is US$82, Dr Stefan reports. The reasons resources available for cancer control are inadequate are "complex and huge," she writes.

A special article looks at the Glivec International Patient Assistance Program (GIPAP). Pat Garcia-Gonzalez, MS, from the Max Foundation in Seattle, and colleagues report on the elements that have contributed to the success of the program, and explain how it can help other companies develop successful and far-reaching patient assistance programs.

GIPAP was established by Novartis Pharma AG, and implemented in partnership with the Max Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization. The program began in 2001, coinciding with the approval of imatinib for chronic myeloid leukemia. Since that time, GIPAP has made imatinib accessible to all medically and financially eligible patients in 80 countries, for as long as their physicians continue to prescribe it and they continue to have no other means of access. In the past 14 years, GIPAP has provided approximately 2.3 million monthly doses of imatinib to more than 49,000 patients.

"It is possible to safely and consistently deliver targeted therapies to patients in any region of the world," Garcia-Gonzalez and her colleagues state.

"Forecasting drug supply and complying with pharmacovigilance regulations are key challenges of the model," the team points out. "Drug donation and patient assistance programs must be tailored to unique and changing country-specific needs," they note.

Although it is not without its problems, GIPAP is an example of how patient assistance programs can be set up in countries where little or no health insurance or prescription drug coverage exists, they explain. "This model demonstrates that such initiatives can work in concert with existing local healthcare structures to treat life-threatening conditions worldwide."

The Journal of Global Oncology is funded through the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO, with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Novartis Oncology.

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