By Jaime G. de la Garza-Salazar, MD
Instituto Nacional de Cancerología-México
In 2005, I was the chair of the ASCO International Affairs Committee (IAC). That same year, the Sociedad Latino Americana de Oncologia Medica (SLACOM) was created by Drs. Eduardo Cazap, Carlos Vallejos, Antonio Buzaid, Gilberto Schwartzman, Francisco Orlandi, Carlos Garbino, and myself.
We knew that in United States, ASCO was organizing Best of ASCO® (BOA) meetings in different cities, featuring a short program of presentation highlights from the most recent ASCO Annual Meeting. I attended one BOA in Beverly Hills, where I learned and thought that we could organize one in Mexico. I proposed to the members of SLACOM that we have a BOA in Cancun, where there are excellent hotel facilities and convenient airline transportation. All agreed to go ahead.
In 2006, we had the first BOA in Cancun at the Hilton Hotel, one of the first BOA meetings to take place outside the United States. We had an excellent program with more than 200 oncologists from all different cities in Mexico and also a few from Central America. In the last 10 years the site has been the Coral Beach Fiesta American Hotel, which has an excellent facility.
The BOA Cancun has been recognized as one of the best oncology meetings in our country. Next September we are celebrating the 12th anniversary of the meeting.
In the past 7 years, Dr. Eduardo Cervera, director of education at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia-Mexico (INCan), suggested to me that we join with other reunions of INCan (Hematology, The Best of SSO, Palliative Care, Radiotherapy, Oncological Pathology, Non-Invasive Radiology, Association of Oncological Nursing). The idea was approved by the former general director of the INCan Dr.Alejandro Mohar and later by current general director Dr. Abelardo Meneses (I mention this because you must have the full support of the Institution). All attendees are invited at no charge, as pharmaceutical companies cover the registration fees.
Many of our invited professors and presenters have been participating in BOA Cancun since the first meeting in 2006, including Drs. Sandra Swain, Mariana Chavez-McGregor, Charles Balch, Alexander Eggermont, Lawrence Einhorn, Chandra Belani, Vicente Valero, Edith Perez, Jaffer Ajani, Joaquim Belmont, Eduardo Cazap, David Khayat, Gilberto Schwartzman, Carlos Vallejos, Jorge Gallardo, and others. A large number of professors participate from the different Mexican institutions: INCan, IMSS, ISSSTE, UANL, etc.
We have been presenting around 60 abstracts in 2 days. We have interactive participation in which the local oncologist participants can ask or comment directly to the professors, which is almost impossible to do at the ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago. We also have the opportunity to talk and meet with many outstanding and very well-recognized oncologists from the most important oncologic institutions.
On average, around 200 attendees come to the BOA Cancun each year; they are very well-recognized oncologists (all certified with the Mexican Oncology Board); in total, attendance at all other reunions is around 2,000 doctors and nurses.
We are very satisfied and proud that BOA Cancun is the most important event in oncology in our country. I am very, very grateful to ASCO and SLACOM for giving me the opportunity to have this wonderful experience, and to know that today, there are more than 56 Best of ASCO meetings organized around the world. Thank you very much.
Dr. de la Garza served for a decade as the general director of the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología and is a founding member of the Latin American and Caribbean Society of Medical Oncology (SLACOM) and of the Mexican Oncology Board. He was the first chair of the ASCO International Affairs Committee, received ASCO’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2014, and is active in the planning of the Best of ASCO® Cancun Meeting.