Kensei TOBINAI, MD, PhD
The Japan Clinical Oncology Group (JCOG) is a multicenter clinical study group for cancer treatment fully funded by the national research grants in Japan. The goal of the JCOG is to establish effective standard treatments for various types of malignant tumors by conducting nationwide multicenter clinical trials, and to improve the quality and outcome of the management of cancer patients. The types of treatments we are developing in JCOG studies include chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, endoscopic therapy, and multimodality therapy.
Modeled after the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) in the United States, JCOG was founded in 1990 by the research grant “A Study on the Multidisciplinary Treatment of Cancer” (principal investigator: Masanori Shimoyama), supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan.
In 2010, JCOG celebrated its 20th anniversary. Over the past 20 years, the JCOG has grown into one of the leading clinical study groups in the world. Many JCOG studies have contributed to the progress in therapeutic strategies for various malignant tumors. I would like to express my profound gratitude to all the JCOG investigators and staffs for their great efforts, to numerous people for their supports, and to the patients who participated in clinical trials and to their families.
Nowadays, JCOG consists of an Executive Committee, Headquarters (Operations Office and Data Center), Committees (Standing Committees, Discipline Committees, Ad Hoc Committees), and study groups. The organization enables us to conduct qualified clinical trials and data assurance. Study groups are divided into 16 categories by specific tumor types or modalities, and approximately 190 institutions nationwide in Japan are participating in these study groups. JCOG has more than 30 actively accruing trials with an annual accrual of over 3,000 patients.
In recent years, the research activities of surgery groups for gastric, colon, and lung cancer have been outstanding. Collaborative studies with other domestic and international cooperative groups are also being actively conducted. In 2013, we launched a clinical trial under the new regulation system to expand the indication of an antitumor management, and the JCOG biorepository was established to facilitate future biological researches.
I am an oncologist focusing on hematologic malignancies working at the National Cancer Center Hospital. I have been a member of the JCOG Lymphoma Study Group since the foundation of the JCOG and also been involved in JCOG studies as a chair of the Protocol Reviewer Committee. It is a great honor to be appointed the fourth JCOG chair.
The environment surrounding JCOG has been changing greatly in recent years. In 2010, the National Cancer Center, where the headquarters of JCOG are located, changed its status from an institution that was directly government-controlled to an Independent Administrative Institution. The primary funding for the JCOG now comes from the National Cancer Center Research and Development Fund. In addition, several new cooperative study groups have been organized in various areas of Japan, and they are actively conducting their own clinical trials. It is also important to participate in global clinical studies for developing new agents sponsored by pharmaceutical companies for the future progress in the management of cancer patients. The recent other changes include reinforcement of national anti-cancer strategy, active development of new drugs by industries, amendments of Japanese ethical guidelines, changes in the public research funding system and rapid aging of the Japanese population.
In the midst of these changes, we must always reconsider the roles that the JCOG plays as well as what JCOG should do for cancer patients in Japan and throughout the world with a high priority. All members of JCOG will make efforts toward the greater improvement in the management of cancer patients. I believe that JCOG will continue to progress toward the goal of achieving breakthroughs in cancer treatment quality and outcomes.