Picture it…a lovely spring evening, the table is set with a linen tablecloth, beautiful flowers, maybe a few candles flickering in the dimly lit dining room and the topic of conversation is cancer.

You’re thinking, can’t it be anything else but cancer? 

Actually, no…because the conversation comes from 25 of the best and brightest cancer doctors in the Mid-Atlantic region of the country.  Better yet, they don’t all come from the same hospital systems.  In fact, that’s the point of this gathering.  These docs, who happen to specialize in prostate cancer, therapies to fight it and clinical trials meet quarterly to share information.  Yes, to share information. 

Normally,doctors and the hospitals they are tethered to are in competition for patients and sharing outside their network isn’t something that is encouraged.  That’s why when I saw the article in “The Washington Post” this morning, with the headline that read, “Competing against cancer, not each other,” I wanted to yell “way to go” to the doctors responsible for gathering this group.  There are 40 on the list so far.  They call themselves GUMDROP (for genitourinary multidisciplinary DC regional oncology project). More than 20 patients have been cross-referred in the past year, according to the article and half of those came from these quarterly gatherings. 

This group has even created a Web site where clinical trial information is posted.  Patients are clearly the winners here.

Could it be that the walls that separate these great medical learning institutions are starting to crumble?  Sharing discoveries of what makes cancer tick could some day stop it in its tracks.

The table is set…dinner is served..let the conversations begin.

 

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