SWOG Gynecologic Cancer Committee
In 2008 the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research awarded a $250,000 grant over five years to the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) for the purpose of reactivating its Gynecologic Cancer Committee (GCC). This grant to the philanthropic arm of SWOG, the Hope Foundation, will defer the expenses associated with the start-up of this committee, including costs associated with coordination of education and research initiatives. The reactivation of the GCG will revitalize the focus of SWOG on gynecologic malignancies and aligns with the Marsha Rivkin Center’s mission to save lives and reduce suffering through improved treatment, early detection, and prevention of ovarian cancer.
Saul Rivkin, MD, medical oncologist at Swedish Medical Center and founder of the Marsha Rivkin Center, is an avid supporter of clinical trials. A member of SWOG since 1972, Dr. Rivkin says, “all major advances in cancer care have come aboutthrough clinical trials.” Dr. Rivkin knows the importance of clinical trials in his personal life as well as his professional. In 1989 his wife Marsha was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Marsha participated in a number of clinical trials, including a trial investigating Taxol, an experimental chemotherapy compound at the time, which has since been approved for use in ovarian, breast, and lung cancer treatment. She also participated in a clinical trial to receive a bone marrow transplant through Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Rivkin says “clinical trials were our best hope for successful treatment.” Although Marsha passed away in 1993, Dr. Rivkin continues his dedication to finding treatments for ovarian cancer and says “in those days we only had a handful of drugs available, but thanks to past clinical trials like the ones Marsha participated in, we now have more choices for patients and their doctors.”
The renewal of SWOG’s GCC enhances the Marsha Rivkin Center’s mission of improved treatment by providing a necessary and critically important vehicle for clinical research of new therapies in the treatment of all gynecologic malignancies. The focus of the committee will be working with medical oncologists on innovative phase I/II and phase II trials. This focus presents a vehicle for moving crucial discoveries made within the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Ovarian SPOREs more quickly to clinical research. These phase I/II and phase II trials will center on oncogene and suppressor gene targeted therapies for gynecologic malignancies.
Maurie Markman, MD, professor and vice president of clinical research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been named the Marsha Rivkin Chair of the GCC. “The revitalization of the Committee has been met with great enthusiasm from the research community, from within SWOG and from the NCI. The GCC will allow us to work with both medical oncologists and gynecologic oncologists involved in the care of women with gynecologic cancer,” says Dr. Markman.
The Southwest Oncology Group (www.swog.org) is one of the largest cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States. Funded by research grants from the National Cancer Institute, the group conducts clinical trials to prevent and treat cancer in adults and to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors. The group is a network of over 5,000 physician-researchers who practice at nearly 550 institutions including 18 NCI-designated cancer centers. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI (734-998-7130), the group has an operations office in San Antonio, TX and a statistical center in Seattle, WA. Clinical trials are the backbone of cancer care advancement. The Marsha Rivkin Center is proud to partner with SWOG in this effort.