I became president of the Japanese Society for Cancer of the Colon and Rectum (JSCCR) in January of 2007, following Professor Tetsuichiro Muto’s presidency. It is a great honor to serve as the JSCCR president because this Society has an illustrious history, plays a vital role in stimulating basic and clinical research in colorectal cancer (CRC), and helps guide the future course of this medical field in Japan. Although my responsibilities in leading the research group are numerous and challenging, I welcome the opportunities they provide, to develop and attain our cherished goals.
The JSCCR was established in 1973 to conduct important research in the CRC field, and to encourage progress in the diagnosis and treatment of CRC. In 1977, the JSCCR published “General Rules for Clinical and Pathological Studies on Cancer of the Colon, Rectum and Anus” in order to clarify how to describe clinical, surgical and pathological findings, and to establish common standards. These standards have increased the value of CRC pathophysiological investigations, and stimulated improvements in therapeutic methods and their implementation. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our predecessors, I believe that diagnostic methods and treatments for CRC in Japan are second to none in the world.
In the introduction section of the first edition of the “General Rules for Clinical and Pathological Studies on Cancer of the Colon, Rectum and Anus”, Professor Dennosuke Jinnai, the first president of the Society, stated that “All rules in medicine should be established in line with the current circumstances, and revised later in the light of research achievements and the advancement of surgical treatment.” In accord with this guiding principle, the JSCCR has set up committees and research projects to address points in the rules that need improvement, and to solve problems that have emerged due to progress in basic and clinical studies. Our committees have worked enthusiastically to achieve project goals. In March of 2006, the seventh edition of the “General Rules for Clinical and Pathological Studies on Cancer of the Colon, Rectum and Anus” was published. Currently, there are seven committees and twelve research projects that aim to solve further problems. In addition, certain problems are urgently in need of solutions, and the JSCCR is planning to launch new projects to address these critical issues.
As I mentioned, Japan leads the world in the diagnosis and treatment of CRC. More specifically, as presented at academic conferences and the JSCCR, and in medical journal articles, Japan ranks highest in the world in terms of the level of diagnosis and treatment provided by institutions specializing in CRC treatment. Furthermore, there is a certain level of consensus on treatment strategies for CRC among Japanese experts. However, many patients with CRC, whose numbers have grown rapidly in recent years, may not be receiving treatment at specialized institutions. To address this issue, and to spur improvements in the treatment of CRC throughout Japan, the JSCCR compiled two “JSCCR Guidelines for the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer,” one for physicians (published in July 2005) and the other for patients (published in January 2006). The JSCCR will continue working, on a variety of fronts, to disseminate these strategies and standards for treatment. Sales figures for the JSCCR Guidelines are encouraging, with 21,000 volumes for physicians and 19,000 for patients sold as of January 2007.
In the past, the JSCCR has stimulated improvements in the performance of surgical treatments for CRC by specifying the appropriate scope of lymph node dissection, based on consideration of the diagnosis and treatment of this disease, and by codifying the description of pathological findings. The importance of prospective studies has been recognized in recent years, and the JSCCR began to discuss how such studies should be conducted during President Muto’s tenure. In the future, the JSCCR will help guide such discussions by taking the lead in clinical trials aiming to develop robust evidence that can be used to establish optimal standards for CRC treatment.
In the meantime, the internet is increasingly important as a forum for information exchange. As the JSCCR drives basic and clinical research in CRC and plans its future in Japan, the Society can provide a wide range of information to not only its members, but to all practitioners engaged in CRC research, diagnosis, and treatment, and furthermore, to the general public, by enriching its website as a source of such information.
The above are just a few points among a larger set of endeavors that the JSCCR aims to pursue and, with your help, bring to fruition. As President, I will do my utmost to accomplish our goals, and I look forward to your generous cooperation.