Sep 18, 2015
By Nagi S. El-Saghir, MD, FACP
Professor and Chair, Breast Center of Excellence, American University of Beirut in Lebanon
Past Chair, ASCO International Affairs Committee
Once again, and for the tenth year in a row, the Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology (LSMO), licensed by ASCO, organized its annual Best of ASCO® meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, on September 11-12, 2015.
Best of ASCO meetings have become a tradition in Lebanon and many other places. People love to attend it, whether they have been to the main ASCO Annual Meeting or not. If you have been to ASCO, you would enjoy either listening to the original presentations a second time, for example the Plenary Session or practice-changing abstracts, or those that are relevant to your practice and your research that you attended at ASCO, or those many presentations that you could not have possibly attended in the very rich ASCO Annual Meeting and its tens of parallel sessions. If you have not been to the ASCO Annual Meeting, whether because of lack of time, work schedule, or travel costs, it feels like you have almost been to the “real” ASCO!
Best of ASCO planning
As soon as ASCO releases its top rated and Best of ASCO Annual Meeting abstracts in March or April every year, we start working on the schedule and promoting the meeting. Once ASCO lifts its embargo on abstracts, we post the schedule on our website. Once abstracts are presented at ASCO, we disseminate the full contents.
We email the original slides that we receive from ASCO to the corresponding presenters, and we ask them to present the data as it was presented at ASCO. We ask people to refrain from giving their own opinion during the presentation and that they may add one or two slides at the end, make sure that they are titled as non-ASCO slides, and where they may make perspective conclusions or even briefly express their concerns and their opinion. A question-and-answer period is opened after presentations, and we have indeed had nice lively discussions all along. ASCO makes sure that data is presented as is, so that attendees get the point of view and interpretation of the original researchers and make their own opinions. Opinions of the presenter and audience discussions usually enrich the meeting.
Best of ASCO Lebanon celebrates its 10th anniversary
This year we had over 300 attendees at Best of ASCO Lebanon. We included international guest experts as well as regional and local Lebanese speakers, who have attended the ASCO Annual Meeting, been to presentations, and listened to the discussions at ASCO, to present the chosen abstracts. The Planning Committee chose Fadlo Khuri, MD, who just moved from Emory University to the American University of Beirut as President, Toni Choueiri, MD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Bassel El-Rayes, MD, of Emory University, Atlanta, Ahmad Awada, MD, and Dominique Bron, MD, of Institut Bordet, Brussels, and Etienne Brain, MD, of Institut Curie, Paris, in addition to presenters from Lebanon and Arab countries.
Plenary Session presentations, advances in immune-oncology, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, new chemotherapy compounds, pediatric oncology presentations, and others were superbly discussed. ASCO recently allowed two Education Sessions, to be chosen by the Planning Committee of each Best of ASCO, to be included. Attendees also enjoyed the popular case presentations sessions where we discussed clinical cases, management, and applicability of new data. This year, the meeting was Co-Chaired by Nagi S. El-Saghir, MD, and Fadi Farhat, MD, and coordinated by Khaled Ibrahim, MD. Feedback and evaluations were excellent and they will be sent to ASCO as required.
Presentations and research methodology
People enjoy Best of ASCO meetings; compared to other regional and local oncology meetings, the Best of ASCO meetings permit presentation of the original researches in their entirety. Young oncologists and fellows-in-training watch how, from background information, hypothesis are made, methods are designed, data is collected, results are deduced, and conclusions are drawn. Exposure to these presentations is important and it helps future oncologists grasp clinical research methodology and build a critical mind and personality.
Best of ASCO: A new established educational tradition worldwide
Best of ASCO itself has become an annual tradition not only in Lebanon, but also in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and even the Americas, including the United States with meetings on the east and west coasts, and in many parts of the world. ASCO has encouraged people all over the world to do Best of ASCO meetings. The ASCO Board of Directors started Best of ASCO in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA, in 2004-2005. Meetings followed in Japan, Mexico, and Lebanon. For the last 10 years, ASCO has licensed meetings in increasing number of countries and they have been popular and successful everywhere. Those regional meetings are serving their purpose and they have not affected attendance at the ASCO Annual Meeting, which itself rose by more than 10,000 over the last 10 years to reach a record of 37,000 in 2015.
ASCO hopes that new oncology knowledge, education, and discussion gets disseminated to all health care professionals and oncologists, and that patients benefit from advances in cancer research and management everywhere and in a timely fashion.