2014 B. J. Kennedy Award Recipient, Dr. Stuart Lichtman: Geriatric Oncology as Best Example of Personalized Medicine

2014 B. J. Kennedy Award Recipient, Dr. Stuart Lichtman: Geriatric Oncology as Best Example of Personalized Medicine

The B. J. Kennedy Award for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology recognizes oncologists who demonstrate outstanding compassion and care for older adults with cancer by devoting their careers to this specialty. It is the active involvement of Stuart Lichtman, MD, FACP, in the field of geriatric oncology and dedication to his patients that led to his selection as recipient for this award.

Dr. Lichtman’s passion for geriatric oncology started more than 30 years ago when he recognized that older patients with cancer were underserved and undertreated. As he sees it, older populations “have become the majority of the patients that we evaluate and treat, and as such, they need to become the focus of our endeavors.”

In 1989, he published a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine highlighting the arbitrary exclusion of older patients in clinical trials. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Lichtman, older populations are “undertreated, and some people believe just because they are old that they shouldn’t be getting the same therapy.” But he has discovered through his work that older patients can tolerate therapy and appreciate the care and time given to them.

Dr. Stuart Lichtman

“The care of older [patients with cancer] is the best example of personalized medicine,” Dr. Lichtman told ASCO Daily News.

Growing Roots in The Specialty

Dr. Lichtman received his undergraduate education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His interest in geriatric oncology continued during his time at the Division of Oncology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York. Dr. Lichtman began working with the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) as a member of the Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Committee and eventually became one of the original members of the CALGB Cancer in the Elderly Committee in 1995, and he is still serving on the committee today.

Beginning in 1994, Dr. Lichtman began attending the International Conferences on Geriatric Oncology, which later became the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG). He has become highly involved in the organization, participating in various taskforces. Since 2010, he has been treasurer of the Board of Directors and served as a U.S. National Representative and Scientific Chair of the 2011 meeting.

In 2004, Dr. Lichtman joined Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) as an attending physician and member. He chaired MSKCC’s 65+ Clinical Geriatric Group from 2006 to 2009, and this multidisciplinary group’s work has demonstrated that a geriatric evaluation and support program can be conducted in comprehensive cancer centers. Dr. Lichtman believes that “all oncologists are geriatric oncologists, but they just don’t realize it.” Dr. Lichtman is also a professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

In addition to his work with SIOG and MSKCC, Dr. Lichtman has served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Geriatric Oncology Consortium and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines Taskforce for the Treatment and Evaluation of Older Women with Breast Cancer. He currently serves on the Elderly Taskforce of the Gynecologic Oncology Group, the Cancer and Aging Research Group, and the Editorial Board of the Journal of Geriatric Oncology. He has been a member of and active volunteer for ASCO since 1988, serving on the Clinical Practice Committee, Scientific Program Committee, and Geriatric Oncology Special Interest Group, among other leadership activities. In 2007 and 2014, Dr. Lichtman was a guest editor for special editions of the Journal of Clinical Oncology devoted to geriatric oncology.

ASCO is proud to recognize Dr. Lichtman with the 2014 B. J. Kennedy Award for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology for his outstanding involvement to geriatric organizations, service to patients, and continual commitment to push the oncology field to see geriatric care as more than end-of-life care.