Now Enrolling: EA2222/PUMP for Patients With Colorectal Cancer That Has Spread to the LiverDecember 19, 2023
From the Co-Chairs, December 2023December 19, 2023
Worta McCaskill-Stevens, MD, MS, a medical oncologist, breast cancer researcher, and the founding director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), passed away peacefully on November 15, 2023, at age 74. Along with being an exceptional leader, Dr. McCaskill-Stevens was an extraordinary mentor and supporter of women and minority investigators in cancer research. She steadfastly pushed for better care for underserved communities with passion and commitment. The impact of NCORP—which profoundly changed the trajectory of community cancer research in this country—will forever be part of her legacy, and an inspiration for others to follow in her footsteps.
Dr. McCaskill-Stevens was a driving force in cancer prevention, detection, and symptom management clinical trials research on behalf of NCI for 25 years. At the 2023 NCORP Annual Meeting in August, then NCI Director Monica Bertagnolli, MD (now National Institutes of Health Director) announced the creation of the NCI Worta McCaskill-Stevens Career Development Award for Community Oncology and Prevention Research (K12). First Lady Dr. Jill Biden participated in the meeting and congratulated Dr. McCaskill-Stevens on this recognition.
In October 2022, ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN) honored Dr. McCaskill-Stevens during the General Session of its Fall Group Meeting for her work advancing cancer prevention, screening, and treatment and for reducing cancer disparities. During the session, seven colleagues shared remarks praising Dr. McCaskill-Stevens, including Dr. Bertagnolli, Nancy Davidson, MD, George Sledge Jr., MD, Lynne Wagner, PhD, Etta Pisano, MD, Edith Mitchell, MD, and Mary Lou Smith, JD, MBA.
The speakers highlighted Dr. McCaskill-Stevens’ significant contributions to NCI-sponsored research, such as her time as program director for the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene for the Prevention of Breast Cancer in Postmenopausal Women (STAR). In this role, she led the innovative and ultimately successful efforts to double the participation of racial and ethnic minority women in the STAR Trial compared to similar studies (McCaskill-Stevens W, Clin Trials, 2013). Speakers noted multiple contributions while overseeing breast cancer prevention research with the NCI’s Community Clinical Oncology Program, a precursor to NCORP.
Before joining NCI, Dr. McCaskill-Stevens was co-director of the Breast Care and Research Center at the Indiana University Cancer Center. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2016 American Association for Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Memorial Lectureship. This honor recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.
Dr. McCaskill-Stevens was steadfastly committed to research and clinical trials. She championed the creation of many clinical trials, perhaps most notably TMIST (Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial), the ongoing, international breast cancer screening trial of nearly 130,000 women. In her own words, Dr. McCaskill-Stevens “walked the talk” by enrolling in TMIST. “I wanted to be a part of a trial that helps engage all women in thinking about how there are still outstanding research questions related to screening—ones they can help answer,” she said. More recently, she participated in a leiomyosarcoma treatment trial.
Dr. McCaskill-Stevens will be deeply missed by her colleagues and friends and remembered for an extraordinary life lived, along with innumerable contributions to cancer research.
Obituary by The Cancer Letter
Statement by ECOG-ACRIN leaders
Appreciation by the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention