This year, 2019, is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the American Joint Committee on Cancer, the AJCC. This committee was founded in 1959 by leaders of the American College of Surgeons in order to support patients by creating a staging system for cancer. The founders had the foresight as well as the influence to develop a cancer classification system based on the tumor, nodal status, and metastatic findings (TNM). What is interesting is that these features were first used by a French surgeon in the 1940s to classify breast cancer! They later became the standard international language for the staging system locked in place today by the AJCC for the needs of US physicians and hospitals.
As the decades went by, the AJCC collaborated with the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to create a standardized cancer language for the world. Through the hard work of numerous physicians dedicated to improving cancer mortality, a worldwide TNM system was achieved in 1987. Since 1997, AJCC has published periodic improvements to the TNM system.
In 2005, our very own Dr. Finger was selected to join the American Joint Committee on Cancer: Section on Ophthalmic Oncology! Then, 4 years later he was elected Chair, for Ophthalmic Oncology. Dr. Finger has participated in the AJCC for over 14 years. His work with the AJCC includes developing the AJCC Ophthalmic Oncology Task Force of over 50 eye cancer specialists from 13 countries on 6 continents. Dr. Finger put together specialty committees to develop a useful classifications to standardize how doctors describe their patients tumors and patterns of metastatic disease. For example, in 2014 the American Brachytherapy Society’s Ophthalmic Oncology Task Force adopted the AJCC staging rules for intraocular melanoma!
Dr. Fingers’ hard work and dedication is further epitomized by his creation of The Eye Cancer Foundation, a community that aims to provide support to patients with ocular cancers, promote the education of the diagnosis and treatment of eye cancers, and train eye cancer specialists around the world. Numerous physicians from underserved and unserved countries have been trained under the sponsorship of the ECF and gone on to use their newfound knowledge to benefit patients in their home countries.
The ECF will never stop saving lives and saving sight.
Click here to make a donation to the foundation and save the life of a child suffering from retinoblastoma!