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Champion in Geriatric Oncology, Rosemary Yancik, PhD, Dies at 86


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Rosemary Yancik, PhD, a medical sociologist, was best known for her talent of bringing a group of experts together who shared her interests in improving the prevention and management of cancer in elderly patients. She served many years at the National Institutes of Health in both the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Yancik died on April 13, 2020, in Westtown, Pennsylvania. She was 86.

Rosemary Yancik, PhD

Rosemary Yancik, PhD

A Passion for Care of Elderly Patients

While at the NCI, Dr. Yancik organized meetings of experts interested in research into how the elderly might benefit in the areas of prevention, early detection, and treatment. From those meetings came the first of two books addressing these topics and titled Perspectives on Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in the Elderly.

Dr. Yancik was instrumental in the formation of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) in 2000. She received the Paul Calabresi Award from SIOG in 2004. At a time when the international community recognized the increased incidence of cancer in the elderly and clinicians appreciated more morbidity and mortality with treatment of the elderly, there was little support for systematic research into the cause of these problems. Fifty years ago, clinical trials often precluded admission of elderly patients, and studies addressing the elderly alone were nonexistent in the United States. Among her personal research contributions was the sentinel observation of a direct correlation between age and stage of ovarian cancer.

Dr. Yancik was a tenacious quantitative investigator, but her real talent was in scientific administration. She identified both the interested neophytes and the experienced experts to foster an exchange of ideas in geriatric cancer research. This stimulated new programmatic interest from major cancer and geriatric organizations. While at the NCI, Dr. Yancik was a major organizer for a consensus conference addressing the topic, and she wrote and secured approval and funding for research focused on cancer and the elderly. Throughout her subsequent career at the National Institute on Aging, she was a recognized champion of geriatric cancer research.

Dr. Yancik was born on October 23, 1934, in Joliet, Illinois. She earned her PhD in medical sociology from St. Louis University and later lived in Fairfax and McLean, Virginia.

She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Joseph John Yancik, and her daughters, Geri Anne Yancik McCafferty and Ellen Marie Yancik Finnerty, and four grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother, Richard Panish, MD. 

Dr. Yates is Clinical Professor of Medicine at SUNY at Buffalo and Emeritus
Professor of Oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

 


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