I am extremely honored to have been elected President of IGCS and look forward to working hard for the membership over the next two years. The Council is strategically engaged, continuing to evolve and grow the society and our outreach to ensure we make a difference in the education and training of providers of gynecologic oncology care in an international context.
IGCS has been part of my life since I became a founding member in the mid-1980s. The formation of the society came about due to the obvious need in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) which were hungry for education and training. We have certainly made a big impact in these areas since then, thanks to a huge amount of work by my predecessors. However, there is still much that IGCS can do, not only for emerging countries, but also in the more developed countries.
You have elected an amazing Council who already have taken on disparate tasks including addressing our membership needs, growing and diversifying our income stream, expanding our educational endeavors and rebuilding our website as a major resource for our members.
Our core business is education. The new Education Committee under Dr. Kathleen Schmeler has already transformed our vision in this area to pragmatic outcomes, including the development of three major subcommittees with truly international representation, overseeing our new core curriculum, our involvement in collaborative meetings and our web-based content. Expect to see major changes very soon!
IGCS is now at a stage to provide global leadership in training. We are all aware of the major disparities of opportunity for training from region to region, particularly in countries with a paucity of fully-trained sub-specialists. We are all also aware that our community of women want better outcomes, particularly in those areas where morbidity and mortality have changed little since the society started.
Part of the challenge, as we know, is that cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide with over 14 million new cases and 8 million cancer-related deaths per year. This exceeds the number of deaths from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis combined. These global cancer rates are rising dramatically with a predicted 23.6 million new cases per year worldwide by 2030. More than 50% of all cancer cases and 65% of the related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Unfortunately, women in these low-resource regions often present with cancer that is at an advanced stage and is difficult to treat. Palliative care is unfortunately also at a minimum and more harrowing, since recurrences lead to intractable pain and fistulae.
An additional challenge in LMICs is the significant shortage of providers. For example, there are 2.6 physicians in Mozambique per 100,000 population compared with 247 in the U.S and 222 in the UK for the same population. In addition, few of the physicians in LMICs have access to specialty training and are therefore unequipped to treat the high volume of patients presenting with cancer. Many regions of the world do not have specialty training in gynecologic oncology, leaving women without the specialty care they need for the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer and other gynecologic malignancies. Given the rising rates of cancer in LMICs, there is an increasingly urgent need to train and educate local physicians to address this epidemic.
The IGCS being a global organization, can take a global approach to this problem. We are launching the Gynecologic Oncology Global Curriculum and Mentorship Program, a comprehensive two-year education and training program designed for regions around the world that do not currently have formal training in gynecologic oncology. The program will match institutions and individuals from high-income countries with partners in LMICs wishing to obtain formal gynecologic oncology training (twinning). The specific goals of the program will be to:
Develop and maintain a comprehensive two-year web based curriculum for local gynecologic oncology training and education that can be adapted by each region/program to reflect local needs and facilities.
Select trainees from LMICs (gynecologic oncology fellows) who will be paired with a local mentor from their home program as well as a fully trained gynecologic oncologist from a mentoring institution abroad.
Establish minimum requirements for individuals to complete the program and receive a certificate following an examination and completion of the two-year training program.
Hold monthly tumor boards where the fellows and mentors review cases and participate in ongoing learning and mentoring opportunities.
The mentor will travel to the fellow’s institution twice during the program for one week of hands-on surgical training and in-person teaching.
The fellow will travel to the mentoring institution for up to three months for training and education.
Five pilot sites have agreed to trial this new program and will provide us with the feedback to refine the content and aims of the curriculum and let us deal with the inevitable teething problems which will eventuate. The program will be truly flexible to meet the needs of the trainees’ region and will be adapted to suit each trainee.
Once up and running, the program will be expanded to additional sites around the world interested in accessing specialty training in gynecologic oncology. A parallel curriculum will be developed in radiation oncology.
Once the pilot phase is complete, I will be reaching out to IGCS members to become involved in several different capacities; particularly in providing mentorship to future trainees. The success of this program moving forward will need the support and assistance of all IGCS members.
I feel humbled and privileged to be the new President of this great society. Thank you for putting your trust in me to make a difference. I promise to make our society truly international and I welcome each of you to reach out to me at some point in time during my presidency. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Quinn, MA, MGO
2016-2018 IGCS President