Our guest columnist this month is Vincent Picozzi, MD, chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Medical Advisory Board and a practicing physician at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Picozzi is board certified in internal medicine, with subspecialties in hematology and medical oncology. He treats a large number of people with pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Picozzi has practiced at Virginia Mason for nearly 30 years and has been involved in research efforts to improve treatment for pancreatic cancer. We applaud his leadership role in the area of pancreatic cancer clinical trials and his commitment to providing optimism and better outcomes for patients.
With warm regards,
Julie Fleshman, JD, MBA
President and CEO
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Dear Pancreatic Cancer Action Network friends,
Dr. Vincent Picozzi
Over the many years that I have been working with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, I have been a witness to the exceptional work streaming from this organization. Of all its programs and platforms, its focus on education about the importance of clinical trials is paramount for the discovery of new treatment options.
Even with this consistent effort, there remains much to do to continue to raise awareness about clinical trials. Researchers are trying very hard to answer complicated questions about this disease. Physicians have a vital role in discussing clinical trials and recommending treatment to pancreatic cancer patients. And then, most importantly, the patients fighting pancreatic cancer ultimately decide which treatment to pursue. All of these things need to happen to advance the scientific landscape.
Making more progress in developing new treatments has three critical components. First, we need more oncologists to discuss clinical trial participation with their pancreatic cancer patients, especially before beginning any treatments. Then, the pancreatic cancer patient community needs to be open to learning about the trials and, when appropriate, seriously consider participating. Clinical trials can give patients access to the latest treatment advances, and patient participation ensures that scientific advancements are not stalled. Lastly, the scientific leaders need to focus on clinical trials that fit the patient population, so that more people with pancreatic cancer have clinical trial options that fit their situations.
Raising awareness among each audience is key. But the number of people we need to reach is incredibly large. This is a challenge that the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network addresses daily. Progress is being made. And, we need to achieve more. You can help. January is National Pancreatic Cancer Clinical Trials Awareness Month. Please take some time to consider your role – for today and for the future.
I extend my profound thanks to those who have participated in a clinical trial, or encouraged someone you know to choose a clinical trial. If you are currently in the fight, please contact a Patient and Liaison Services (PALS) Associate at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to learn about clinical trials that may be right for you.
Together we have the opportunity to change the course of pancreatic cancer history.
Vincent Picozzi, MD
Director, Pancreas Center of Excellence, Virginia Mason Digestive Diseases Institute
Chair, Medical Advisory Board, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network