As 2020 begins to wind down and we look to the future, ASCO is meeting the challenges to come with a meaningful new tagline: Knowledge Conquers Cancer. Members share what those words mean to them, and the role our professional Society plays in their work. For me, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer” carries enormous weight, especially now. In cancer, we gain knowledge that will ultimately improve patient care through science: through basic scientific discovery, laboratory experiments, and clinical trials. In my own field, as an example, the development of PARP inhibitors has significantly improved the lives of women with BRCA mutations and ovarian cancer: the holy grail of personalized cancer treatment is being achieved. And yet, at the same time, we watch scientific knowledge being treated with utter disdain. We see the immediate consequences of ignoring infectious disease experts on pandemic control and disregarding environmental scientists on climate change, and we are only beginning to appreciate the devastating repercussions for the future. So-called treatments for COVID-19 are being marketed to the public without the critical scientific process required to demonstrate their efficacy or safety. Well-conducted science informs discovery and progress, and we abandon it at our peril.
The COVID-19 pandemic, of course, continues to affect us all, and its omnipresence is reflected throughout this issue:
- ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis and Dr. Piyush Srivastava discuss ASCO’s special report on resuming cancer care delivery, which includes guidance on maintaining the well-being of the oncology workforce.
- Dr. Mona Hassan provides a first-person perspective on the situation in Lebanon following the explosions at the Port of Beirut in early August, and the staggering impact of the disaster on the country’s efforts to control COVID-19 cases.
- Members of ASCO’s International Affairs Committee offer snapshots of the pandemic experience around the globe.
- Dr. Marina Chernykh describes her experience with COVID-19 as both a provider and a patient herself, and how she moved cancer care forward through telemedicine while isolating at home.
- Dr. Richard L. Martin III, Dr. Jennifer R. Green, Dr. Elizabeth Henry, and Dr. Martina Murphy outline a novel, trainee-led virtual learning initiative and their methods of assessing its success. Of particular note is the initiative’s incredible focus on collaboration and inclusion, which resulted in a truly multi-institutional program.
- Dr. Kathryn Bollin and Dr. Farah Nasraty describe their institution’s experience with resilience skills training and how those cognitive and emotional tools can be applied during a global crisis. At this critical time, when there is enormous pressure on us from every angle in both our professional and personal lives, we must take care of ourselves so that we can take care of the people who depend on us. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Dr. Nagi S. El Saghir shares a few words of encouragement and congratulations for this year’s hematology/oncology graduates around the world, honoring their work as learners, thinkers, doctors, and scientists. I second Dr. El Saghir’s heartfelt words, and I know he speaks for all of the educators, attendings, mentors, and program directors who are proud to welcome today’s young leaders into the next stage of their careers.