Director's message: Cancer advocates are critical to research

Volume 3, Issue 3, 2014


Advocates ensure that the patient voice is represented in discussions about research.

Photograph of Robert B. Diasio, M.D., director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.

September is a big month for cancer advocates — millions of Americans turn out to support awareness campaigns for causes such as childhood cancer, gynecologic cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer and thyroid cancer.

These awareness campaigns are about generating publicity for cancer causes. But the cancer advocates behind these campaigns do so much more than PR.

Cancer advocates play a critical role in supporting research. They help raise funds through lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., and state capitals. They lead and support philanthropic organizations that fund research and serve on advisory boards that direct research.

At the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, each of our Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) has patient advocates who help ensure that the patient voice is well-represented in our research. The large cooperative groups that conduct cancer research also include advocates on their committees.

These advocates help ground our research by bringing the faces and voices of people with cancer to important discussions on research. They help us better understand how to increase patient participation in clinical trials, how to disseminate research results and how to communicate with the public about cancer research.

This issue of Forefront contains stories about several research initiatives that owe some measure of success to cancer advocates. I hope you enjoy reading about each one.

Robert B. Diasio, M.D.
Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor