October 7, 2005

Page to chair committee to classify cancer stages

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David Page, M.D.

Page to chair committee to classify cancer stages

David Page, M.D., professor of Pathology and Preventive Medicine, has been named chair of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC).

It is a role he formally accepted some time ago, but most recently completed his first official act by chairing the annual meeting of the Committee.

Page said the AJCC's work centers on establishing guidelines for classifying, or staging, the severity of solid tumor cancers.

He said the organization represents a major collaboration with the International Union against Cancer, or the Union Internationale Contre Cancer (UICC), and brings together many countries.

“So, if I say a woman has a stage three cancer, someone in Hungary or other countries would say the same thing,” said Page. “This is the language of cancer, and we are saying that we should all speak the same language,” he added.

Page said the staging of cancers is not only important to clinicians, but to the patients they serve.

“It is important that they know the place their cancer has evolved to. That language is understood by a doctor in New York or a doctor in Buenos Aires,” he said.

During their annual meeting, Page said the AJCC discussed making plans for some changes in the way tumors will be evaluated and staged.

“We will put in place different ways of measuring cancers, including molecular markers. We're going to incorporate them into the anatomic system we use now. In the future we're going to integrate other biological markers as well,” said Page.

Page is a well known pathologist at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, having developed diagnostic guidelines for breast cancer that helped redesign risk assessment for patients around the world.

He has been bestowed numerous awards and honors, including a Komen Foundation Award for Scientific Distinction in 1999.

He will serve as chair of the AJCC for three years.

The AJCC was established in 1959 to form and publish systems to classify all solid tumors.

The Committee's work to define and implement staging of tumors is used by the medical profession for choosing the most effective treatment for the patient, determining prognosis, and continuing the evaluation of cancer control measures.

Organizations who work closely with the AJCC include the American Cancer Society, the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.