Cancer medicine advances at breakneck speed, and the need for training young physicians in the latest approaches to best oncology treatments is constant, as is the need for continuing medical education (CME) content that practicing oncologists can rely on for remaining abreast of their field.

SWOG’s Genitourinary (GU) Committee has piloted a program to help train residents and fellows in GU oncology topics while also increasing awareness of – and hopefully accrual to – our clinical trials.

The idea originated with Dr. Ian Thompson, long-time chair of our GU Committee. He was challenged by the fact that no national curriculum exists for urology residency or fellowship training programs, meaning that faculty at each institution create their own programming.

Thompson realized that some of the clinical trials conducted within the GU Committee address core concepts that could be part of all training programs. Moreover, the study chairs of these trials would be particularly qualified to teach these concepts and could use their own trial as a working example. Delivering such content to residency programs around the country would not only provide training of consistently high quality but could also put specific trials run by the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network on the radar of every urology resident who used the curriculum. This increased awareness would likely lead to increased accrual.

“If we had the one thousand-plus residents in urology and all of the GU oncology fellows scouring their clinics for patients, we’d accrue like gangbusters,” Thompson says. “They could also be advocates for having their institutions open the trials.”

Having the lectures CME-accredited meant they could be made widely available online, so the GU Committee reached out to Jo Horn, president and CEO of The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research, which is the source of accreditation behind all of the CME content delivered at our twice-a-year group meetings. “The Hope Foundation has been wonderful,” says Thompson, “and has done all the heavy lifting,” and six months later we have the first two CME sessions available online.

Both one-hour presentations deliver GU oncology training in the performance-in-practice context of an ongoing SWOG phase III trial.

Dr. Ulka Vaishampayan, study chair of S1931, delivers a video-recorded CME presentation on the role of nephrectomy in advanced renal cancer that ends with a question-and-answer session and a post-test. She presents the topic in the context of S1931, which tests nivolumab and ipilimumab with or without cytoreductive nephrectomy in metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

Dr. Brian Chapin presents a similarly structured CME session on the role of surgery and radiation in treating metastatic prostate cancer, building on S1802, a study in that disease testing standard systemic therapy with or without definitive treatment of the primary tumor.

Part of the beauty of the approach is that the study chairs essentially already have the content for their training session ready to go, as they’ve presented on the subject numerous times, often featuring the clinical trial in question.

The GU Committee and The Hope Foundation are now pursuing a number of strategies for making these sessions widely available, as well as for driving awareness of them, including reaching out to urology professional societies and building buzz on social media. Surely you’ll hear more about these, and about the idea itself, in the weeks and months to come.

The endeavor can clearly provide high quality training content for urology residents. Will it raise awareness of, and accrual to, individual clinical trials? Time will tell, but if it does, it represents an approach that could be used with other malignancies, more widely within SWOG and elsewhere in the NCTN.

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