The American Radium Society encourages the study of cancer in all its aspects, encourages liaison among the various medical specialists and allied scientists, and thereby champions multi-modality oncologic care. Past and present membership rolls of the Society read like a “Who's Who” of cancer care and include distinguished physicians and allied scientists whose primary focus spans the spectrum of oncologic subspecialties; however, the current distribution of areas of expertise may not necessarily be optimal. Moreover, the practice of medicine constantly is changing, and we, as a society, should be prepared to evolve with it. For example, treatment of cancers arising in the head and neck region has changed dramatically during the past decade. The successful integration of concurrent chemotherapy with radiation therapy has created new paradigms for optimal care. These paradigms potentially decrease the risk of distant metastases, improve the local-regional control of disease, increase the likelihood of organ preservation, and reduce the risk posed by microscopic-sized unresected disease. Yet, much remains unknown, some of the available data appear contradictory, and much is left to do. Similar analysis persuasively argues that other groups that have specific expertise must also play a vital role in modern oncologic care, including radiation biologists, medical physicists, and molecular biologists.
Yet, the current environment creates formidable obstacles to participation in the American Radium Society's mission. We must improve our understanding of these barriers and implement original solutions to ensure that our society remains in the forefront of progress in the fight against cancer. In particular, programs to increase the educational reach of the ARS need to be devised, implemented, and nurtured. The ARS has a long, proud history, but we should not seek to live in its past. We must seek continuously and welcome enthusiastically changes in the Society that will align the ARS with paradigms of cutting-edge oncologic care.
Department of Radiation Oncology, New York University Medical Center, New York, New York.