Prof. Nathan Cherny, Director of Cancer Pain and Palliative Care Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s Medical Oncology Department and one of Israel’s leading oncologists, has developed a “tool” to help physicians determine the most effective cancer treatments and medications.

The tool, which includes scores for 70 different cancer drugs, has been published by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and is called the “ESMO Magnitude and Clinical Benefit Scale” (MCBS).

“While it is known that the value of any new treatment is determined by the magnitude of its clinical benefit against its cost, to date there has not been a standard tool for grading such magnitude,” said Prof. Cherny, who formulated the idea some years ago. “Many modern cancer drugs are of very little benefit to patients,” he explained. “More and more medicines have been going on to the market with lower and lower levels of benefit . . . The ESMO-MCBS offers a rational, structured and consistent approach to “stratify” a drug’s clinically meaningful benefit.”

ESMO intends to apply the scale prospectively to new anti-cancer drugs that will be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Drugs obtaining the highest scores on the scale will be highlighted in the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, with the hope that they will be rapidly made available by health authorities across the European Union.

Since 1997 Prof. Cherny has served on the research steering committee of the European Association of Palliative Care. In 1999 he established the European Society for Medical Oncology working group for the integration of oncology and palliative care. He led the ESMO initiative to develop policies on the role of the oncologist in palliative care, oncology training for medical oncologists and minimal standards for palliative care in cancer centers. Since 2008 he has been the chairman of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group. Prof. Cherny has edited four books, is widely published and maintains the Shaare Zedek Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Reference Database website that offers a searchable on-line library of 42,000 palliative care references. In 2007, Dr. Cherny was appointed to the Norman Levan Chair of Humanistic Medicine at Shaare Zedek Medical Center and in 2008 was promoted to Associate Professor in Medicine in the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.