Cancer Kills. With more than 8.2 million deaths in 2012, it is the second leading cause of death globally. In addition, the economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing. That same year there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths and 32.6 million people living with cancer (within 5 years of diagnosis). Further, the total annual economic cost of cancer in 2010 was estimated at approximately US $ 1.16 trillion. While this may seem to be astronomical – both in numbers of morbidity and mortality as well as economic impact, the truth is that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there will be at least 21.7 million new cases of cancer each year by 2030 and 13 million cancer deaths simply due to the growth and aging of the population. But the actual numbers of cancer may be considerably larger. This may, in part, be due to the adoption of lifestyles that are known to increase cancer risk, such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and fewer pregnancies, in economically developing countries. 
Today, based on the most recent 2012-2014 SEER Cancer Statistics Review data approximately 38.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime. Although these patients and their loved ones can draw comfort from the fact that there has been substantial progress made in the early detection and treatment of cancer, which, in turn, has significantly extended the life expectancy of patients to the point that many people diagnosed with cancer can be cured, and the illness of others can be managed as a chronic disease, the cost, both economic and psycho-social, of cancer remains very high. 
Cancer, or more correctly, the more than 100 different diseases we collectively call cancer, is complex. The good news is that treatment options for many of these different types of cancer have, over the last few decades, dramatically improved. However, with the dawn of the internet and other technologies designed to streamline the delivery of health related information and patient education, there is a greater need for physicians, nurses and allied health professionals to develop skills to better understand and use of consumer health information.
A wealth of information
The growth of the number of so called ‘popular’ online health forums, which may lack accuracy and may, at times, distribute unashamedly, false & fake information, can be challenging and stressful for both patients and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, reliable, and trustworthy, information – about symptoms, diagnosis, disease, treatment, follow-up care or decision making may, even in the 21st century, be inaccessible. Consequently, for persons with limited health literacy skills, who are generally more likely to have chronic conditions and are less able to manage them effectively, access to useful health related information remains an important unmet need. 
Benefit of radio
Advances in technology – including the internet – have given people more ways to access an increasing amount of health related information. But even in countries where access is abundant, radio continues to play an important role in sharing information.
In an effort stimulate an international cancer dialogue, coupled with the desire to ‘translate’ the often complex data from national and international clinical trials into simple to understand, yet accurate and trustworthy information, and the aspiration to meet the medical information needs of patients with limited health literacy skills to reduce the burden of disease (and, in the process, help physicians, nurses and allied health professionals meet the need of their patients), Sonia Portillo, my co-host, and I, launched The Onco?Zine Brief, which first debuted in the spring of 2017 as the radio broadcast (and podcast) edition of the online journal Onco?Zine.
Distributed via PRX | Public Radio Exchange in the United States and around the world, this sponsor-supported radio broadcast and podcast, being developed for cancer patients and their loved ones, as well as cancer survivors, healthcare professionals, medical scientists, policy makers, and payers, is now available via a variety of broadcast and podcast networks, including PRX | Public Radio Exchange, Spreaker and Stitcher Radio. The program can also be downloaded via iTunes and Google Play Music.
In early March 2018, with the generous support of a number of commercial underwriters, the program launched on Independent Talk 1100 KFNX, in Phoenix, Arizona, one of the top Ten Radio Stations in Arizona reaching almost 5 million people throughout the state, where the program is broadcast every Saturday between 1.00 p.m. and 2.00 p.m.
So, what does The Onco’Zine Brief offer? The weekly show features in-depth round-table discussions and interviews covering a broad range of topics and timely news updates about cancer, cancer diagnostics, and new and existing treatment options as well as hot button issues about access to care, the psycho-social aspect of cancers, cancer health disparities and the cost of cancer treatments.
… The aim of The Onco?Zine Brief is to broaden understanding of cancer and cancer treatment and improve the lives of the men, women and children who ? every day again – live with it…
Together, Sonia and I have hosted multiple episode of the show in 2017 from major international medical conferences, including the annual meetings of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), World ADC and the American Society of Hematology (ASH). We also traveled to Europe to cover various meetings there, including CPhI Worldwide (and the associated Pre-Connect Congress) in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Onco’Zine Brief focuses on all aspects of cancer, cancer treatment and medical research and breakthroughs from all oncology disciplines and sub-specialties from around the world.
The new, 2018, season will feature interviews with Key Opinion Leaders and cancer experts, researchers and medical scientists, pharmaceutical business leaders and regulators, from North America and Europe, as well as patients and patient advocates. For the new season, we will be hosting the show on a weekly basis throughout the year, and are also expected to present The Onco?Zine Brief from a select number of meetings and conferences in China and Southeast Asia.
Meet the team
But producing a weekly radio broadcast with accurate, cancer related information, is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time – and talent – to develop and sustain such a broadcast. Hence, as the executive producer and co-host of The Onco’Zine Brief I couldn?t be more thrilled than to partner with the many professionals involved in creating a successful program.
- Eric Rosenthal, our Editor-at-Large, a medical journalist specializing in providing insight, perspective, and transparency into various issues, trends, and controversies in oncology, and other areas concerning the politics of health care. A former special correspondent for Oncology Times and (currently) a contributor to The Hill and a special correspondent for Medpage Today, Eric and I met for the first time when he was a senior correspondent and news director for Vital Option International’s nationally syndicated The Group Room cancer talk-radio show. As a real journalist – focusing on facts, not fiction, Eric?s reporting is known for its balance in providing perspective and context, and taking readers behind the scenes by exploring the ?how? and ?why.? This is evident in his series ?Eric Rosenthal Reports,? which, in June 2017, returned to Onco?Zine and recognized Op-Eds he develops and co-authors with Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen, former U.S. State Department Chief of Protocol, Ambassador to Hungary and former U.N. World Health Organization?s Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control.
- Evan Wendt, one of the most experienced, trusted, and faithful editors I’ve ever worked with. He believes that every unforgettable story takes focused anticipation, good composition, superb editing and a keen eye for detail. We would not have a broadcast without his creativity and his diligent work. But above all, his ability to work calmly and effectively under pressure, react quickly, and meet tight deadlines, is so valued. Beyond his technical expertise, Evan is a passionate and creative storyteller with the ability to craft polished media productions, including our ongoing video documentary series Changing Strategies in the War on Cancer.
- David ‘the voice’ Caylor, a key member of our audio branding and the show’s voice imaging team, offers, a versatile, and believable, ‘voice.’ With a critical ear, he gives any script the read it deserves. I guess, with his unique experience, it must be said that David was probably genetically predisposed to having some kind of media career. Offering a creative, and unique broadcast voice, David’s work was crucial in creating the ‘sound,’ of The Onco’Zine Brief, coloring our audience’s perception and expectations by producing a pretty amazing voice image.
- Shaun Mehr is our media consultant with over 20 years of leadership experience in partner marketing, B2B marketing, content development, demand generation and integrated marketing. Shaun is a specialist in program development for partner, channel and marketing organizations. As one of the co-producers of The Onco’Zine Brief Shaun conceptualizes and communicates creative ideas, follows through on production and understands the needs of our underwriters, sponsors and advertisers. Shaun is also our media advisor for our online journals ADC Review | Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates and Onco’Zine.
- And of course, my co-host, Sonia Portillo, who has the confidence and tenacity to pursue and validate information, overcome obstacles, and, with her detail oriented perfectionism, has saved me from major editorial blunders. She is key in generating original ideas and understands how to communicate them to our audiences. But above all, she has excellent writing (for radio) and storytelling skills, grounded in medical science, with the ability to tailor and adapt content to the needs of our audience. Sonia communicates from basic science through to the clinic, supporting our editorial development through all phases and is experienced with audiences from physicians to nurses and other allied health providers. In addition to her work for The Onco’Zine Brief, Sonia is also an associate editor for our online journals ADC Review | Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates and Onco’Zine. Her portfolio includes extensive work in oncology and hematology along with a range of other therapeutic areas.
A lot of gratitude also goes to the many experts we have been able to interview. Their understanding of cancer, cancer diagnostics and treatment is superior – their vision for the future and willingness to talk to us, the team behind The Onco’Zine Brief – often humbling. But above all, their drive to work in behalf of patients with cancer – and help find a ‘cure,’ is inspiring. With some of our guests we’ve talked about their professional involvement with cancer; with others about the the development of novel therapeutic agents and diagnostic tools and with some we talked about the many things we need to change to improve the delivery of care.
In our interview with Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, the current (2017/18) president of the American Association for Cancer Research | AACR, Sonia and I asked him about his passion, his drive and what he wanted to accomplish during his tenure as president of the AACR. One of Caligiuri main concerns, we found out, is the existence of health disparities in cancer, which go beyond race or ethnicity, and represent a major public health problem in our country. As part of his effort, Caligiuri planned to bring together scientists and other professionals working in a variety of disciplines to discuss the latest findings in the field and to stimulate the development of new research in cancer health disparities. Now, nearing the end of his tenure and recognizing the complexities involved, we hope, in a scheduled interview during the upcoming 2018 annual meeting of the AACR, to discuss some of his successes.
One of the memorable interviews we had was, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), with Bob Pinedo, MD, PhD, now professor emeritus and a consultant to the Board of the Free University Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Born and raised in Cura?ao, an island in the southern Caribbean Sea and an independent country in The Kingdom of The Netherlands, Pinedo, has worked with a number of pioneers in oncology ? including Dr. Bruce A. Chabner, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) – where he conducted pharmacology studies to understand the effect of certain drugs on bone marrow stem cells. He introduced the medical community to a process of multidisciplinary treatment across hematology, surgical and radiation oncology and helped develop new clinical strategies. The work Pinedo did to accomplish his goal was recognized by his peers. As a result, in 2014, during the 50th aniversary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, he received the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture.
Another interview – scheduled for a broadcast in April 2018 – was with Manon Rinsma, MSc, the author of 13 Diamonds ? Life Before Death from a Child?s Perspective. Originally from The Netherlands, Rinsma graduated Free University Amsterdam, in Amsterdam The Netherlands with a Masters in Media Psychology. In our interview we talked about how she found the strength to share her story and how her dream of writing her first book finally became reality after moving to the United States. In her book she tells the story off family, hope and all the beauty life has to offer, until a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball makes itself at home, intruding in the happy lives of a loving family. Her story portrays the emotions and struggles of a young girl who witnessed how her mother, the brightest, most beautiful woman she knew, slowly dies as the results of a horrific form of cancer.
These above interviews are just a few of the many Sonia and I conducted in 2017 and early 2018. Noteworthy were, among others, also interviews with Anna Sureda, MD, Ph.D, Head of the Hematology Department at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain, about the treatment of multiple myeloma; Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, about new treatment options in lung cancer; Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD, chairman, Ad Interim, Director of Myeloma and professor of Medicine in the Departments of Lymphoma, Myeloma and Experimental Therapeutics in the Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas; Bonnie Adario, founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies, exclusively dedicated to lung cancer; Robert Andtbacka, MD, CM, is an associate professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine and a surgeon and investigator with Intermountain Healthcare and Huntsman Cancer Institute, and David R. Epstein BSc, MBA, former Chief Executive Officer of Novartis Pharmaceuticals and currently the Executive Chairman of Rubius Therapeutics, about pioneering novel red-cell therapeutics or RCTs ? nicknamed ?superblood? – and CAR-T technology.
The power to connect
Radio has a special power. It’s an intimate medium, creating one-to-one connections with listeners. No other medium can match that. Radio is all about connecting and addressing the, often unspoken, unmet needs of listeners – from patients to cancer experts.
Looking at the wealth of news and information as well as the enormity of the impact of being told ?You have Cancer,? I sincerely hope that our interviews for The Onco?Zine Brief will lead to a global conversation ? and real comprehensive discussion ? about cancer. Such a conversation should help create a realistic and constructive approach to cancer prevention, treatment and care ? but also help generate a better understanding – knowledge – of drug development, clinical research many other aspects related to cancer, the psycho-social aspects of the disease and survival.
As the executive producer of the show, I hope that the information we share with our listeners contributes to reaching that goal.
So… join us for an upcoming episode The Onco’Zine Brief or download one of our podcasts.
Last Editorial Review: March 28, 2018
Featured Image: Radio studio. Courtesy: ? 2010 – 2018 Fotolia. Used with permission.
Copyright ? 2010 – 2018 Sunvalley Communication, LLC. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Sunvalley Communication content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Sunvalley Communication. Sunvalley Communication shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Onco?Zine, Oncozine and The Onco?Zine Brief are registered trademarks and trademarks of Sunvalley Communication around the world.