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Flaig Named Chair of NCCN Bladder Cancer Guidelines Panel

Published Online:8:31 PM, Tue August 8, 2017

Thomas Flaig, MD
Thomas Flaig, MD, has been named chair of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) Panel for Bladder Cancer. He will join a group of 34 multidisciplinary experts from NCCN member institutions specializing in the field of bladder cancer research, treatment, and survivorship to help influence the future direction of care for the disease.

Flaig is associate dean for Clinical Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Chief Clinical Research Officer of UCHealth.

“After decades without new bladder cancer treatments, in the last two years and even more so in the last 6-9 months, approvals of new drugs have accelerated. We’re finally getting traction against the disease. I’m honored to lead the NCCN bladder cancer panel through this important time of transition and opportunity,” Flaig says.

The NCCN is a partnership between 27 leading cancer centers that are working together to set the standards of care that are followed by clinicians who are treating cancer around the country and the world. The NCCN helps decide what combinations of drugs, surgery, and radiation is appropriate for each kind of cancer and at which stage, and often influences the treatments covered by insurance companies.

It is also the role of NCCN Guidelines panels to interpret the results of clinical trials through the lens of their own experience and expertise.

“Often there’s just not enough research to show exactly how every drug should be used in every situation. When that’s the case, we rely on expert opinion. The NCCN panels convene multidisciplinary experts – including oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, researchers, and patient advocates – to offer our best recommendations for the use of anti-cancer therapies,” Flaig said.

As many genetic pathways and alterations can influence the development of the disease, Flaig described bladder cancer as a “target-rich” environment. Many of these genetic targets have proven important in other kinds of cancer, implying that the field’s recent acceleration may only be the tip of the iceberg of what is possible.

“One thing that the bladder cancer community has done is proven to industry and to the National Cancer Institute that we can set goals, complete clinical trials and discover new treatments that extend and improve patients’ lives. Now in addition to learning to use these medicines, we have the opportunity to circle back to discover new ones,” Flaig said.

 “It’s a really exciting time,” says Flaig. “I like to think of it as a ‘happily complicated’ time as we have the opportunity and also the responsibility to improve the way things have always been done.”

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