In just a few weeks, it will be my great pleasure to welcome you to the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting. Our organization provides a home for professionals from across the globe who are devoted to creating a world where cancer is prevented or cured and every survivor is healthy. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Caring for Every Patient, Learning From Every Patient.” The important word here is every. This means that every person with cancer has access to high-quality care and the opportunity to participate in clinical research. With a declining death rate due to cancer in the United States, we are succeeding at some level. New, more effective treatments are available, and we also know that so many cancers can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. However, it is also clear that disparities in access to care and clinical research are widespread and their causes complex, with roots that go deep into the communities we serve.
During my year as ASCO president, I had the opportunity to visit many different communities, witnessing firsthand some of the challenges that our patients and our providers face. Every location is unique, and medicine exists within the fabric of society. I am reminded of the wonderful quote from Sir William Osler: “It is much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of disease a patient has.” Integrated in their unique communities, ASCO members serve a wide variety of individuals and have access to a wide range of resources. Our members are located in major academic medical centers and small community hospitals, some with access to every new health care advance, and others with difficulties to provide services that we all consider quite basic, such as access to cancer screening or end-of-life care.
Because of their scope and diversity, ASCO members and their patients are a tremendous source of knowledge, and one of the most important things we can do to eliminate disparities in care is to tap into this knowledge. As an organization representing more than 45,000 clinicians caring for patients with cancer, ASCO provides tools to make this possible. I urge you all to look into ASCO’s programs for collaboration—in education, quality, and research, such as QOPI®, CancerLinQ™, and ASCO International. Each year, ASCO holds more than a dozen courses in countries around world, relying on member volunteers to serve as faculty. We welcome your participation, and especially your feedback, to help us develop tools to learn from your experience and better serve your individual needs.
If we are to achieve a world without the fear of cancer, we must combine forces and work together as never before to learn from every patient’s experience to benefit those who come afterward. You will greatly help our efforts by joining us at the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting. We look forward to seeing the results of this yearly exchange of ideas from across the world of cancer care and research.