E-Newsletter - December 2023

In Memoriam | Worta J. McCaskill-Stevens, MD
Founding Director, NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP)

Worta J. McCaskill-Stevens, MD, former chief of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group and former director of the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP), died November 15, 2023. She was 74.

Dr. McCaskill-Stevens was a nationally known physician-scientist with expertise in leading clinical trials in the community. She worked as a breast cancer oncologist before joining NCI in 1998 in the Community Clinical Oncology Program. She served as program director for the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR), one of the largest breast cancer prevention studies ever undertaken. In the trial, conducted at 500 centers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, both drugs greatly reduced the risk of developing invasive breast cancer in women at high risk. She also co-led the Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (TMIST), an ongoing, international breast cancer screening trial of nearly 130,000 women ages 45 to 74. She "walked the talk" and participated in TMIST, as well.

Dr. McCaskill-Stevens has made a tremendous impact on cancer health disparities research both nationally and internationally, and in management of comorbidities within clinical trials, and molecular research that helps to identify those individuals who will best benefit from cancer prevention interventions. Her passion and curiosity for breast cancer led her to really focus on research related to the cancer and the multiple factors involved in improving access and health outcomes for this population. She retired on October 31 after 25 years of service in the NCI. Her passion, leadership and vision made the NCORP and the Alliance the powerful and impactful force it is today in driving cancer prevention, control and treatment research into all communities, especially diverse communities, to make an impact on cancer outcomes.

She is noted saying, “You must have curiosity about your interest which often develops into a passion and commitment to pursue the topic in depth. Follow this path and seek out others who have travelled it." She certainly lived up to these high expectations until the very end and is a real inspiration to all of us who strive towards making the lives of patients with cancer better.

During the 2023 Alliance Fall Hybrid Group Meeting in November, the Alliance Cancer Control Program renamed its annual health disparities symposium - "The Worta McCaskill-Stevens, MD, MS Health Disparities Symposium" in honor of Dr. McCaskill-Stevens' leadership and work with the NCI NCORP.



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