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Editor's Message Ending and Beginnings: We Have Come a Long Way

Pfalzer, Lucinda (Cindy), PT, PhD, FACSM, FAPTA

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Rehabilitation Oncology: 2013 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 5

It is a privilege to step into the shoes of Steve Gudas, the retiring Editor. Steve is looking forward to retirement and some new challenges in serving the Oncology Section. The contributions Steve has made to oncology physical therapy and rehabilitation are extensive including his role as Editor of this journal. Steve and I have been professional colleagues since 1986 and in our professional life-times, we have seen cancer become a chronic disease. As cancer has become a chronic disease, physical therapists are likely to see cancer survivors in every setting—ICU, hospital, subacute rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, hospice, skilled nursing, home care, outpatient—with a high prevalence of functional limitations. The APTA's Oncology Section is now finalizing a petition to the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties for oncology specialization. We have come a long way on the journey to describe the clinical decision-making process in oncology PT, to begin to agree on responsive outcome measures, to conduct clinical trials to compare different interventions in oncology PT, and to examine cost-effectiveness. We still have much work to do.

This special issue focuses on the work of the Breast Cancer Edge Task Force, specifically the subgroup on Clinical Measures of Upper Extremity Function with team leaders of Pamela Levangie and Mary Fisher who have done an excellent job overseeing the process, and keeping everyone on task. Thanks to their hard work and the dedication of the authors and reviewers, this special issue includes this important work for oncology PT. Levangie and Fisher1 describe this work in the introduction to the special issue, “At the Combined Sections Meeting in 2012, the Breast Cancer EDGE Task Force's subgroup on Clinical Measures of Upper Extremity Function presented its findings. The presenters asked Rehabilitation Oncology for the opportunity to also present their findings to the entire Oncology Section. The goal of publishing these papers is to disseminate the EDGE recommendations on measures that can or should be used for individuals treated for breast cancer. Each paper also includes existing measures that require validation or further validation in the breast cancer population, as well as identification of areas where clinically relevant measures of upper extremity are still quite inadequate. Until valid, reliable, and clinically useful measures of upper extremity function are both available and in widespread use in those treated for breast cancer, we will be challenged in our ability to definitively demonstrate the effects of breast cancer on function and quality of life, as well as to justify the need for routine surveillance and periodic intervention in this population.”

I encourage you to read the case report by Sawyer et al2 who provide a wonderful example of application of evidence to practice, demonstrating the need for further practice guideline development and the challenging work yet to be done.

I think this special issue is a wonderful way to roll out the new format and cover for the journal. The long-term goal for the journal is to be indexed in PubMed to make our evidence for practice more accessible to all health care providers. I especially encourage you to read the new columns: President's Perspective by Lisa Van Hoose, who is discussing the G-codes; the Clinical Conversation column from the Lymphedema SIG Chair, Lesli Bell; and the Research Round-up column from the Research Committee with Steve Morris as Chair. Also, you will find the news and updates from the Oncology Section in the various Section Departments.

I look forward to your feedback. Thank you, Steve.


1. Levangie PK, Fisher MI. Oncology Section task force on breast cancer outcomes: an introduction to the Edge Task Force and clinical measures of upper extremity function. Rehabil Oncol. 2013;31(1):6-10.
2. Sawyer B, Shadik L, Pfalzer LA. Best practice for total hip arthroplasty in a twenty-four year old woman with a hemipelvectomy: a case report. Rehabil Oncol. 2013;31(1): 35-41.
©2013 (C) Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy, APTA