2019 ASCO Annual Meeting: Caring for Every Patient, Learning From Every Patient

May 07, 2019

By Carson Rolleri, ASCO Communications

Join us May 31-June 4 in Chicago for the most exciting science, education, and networking

Bringing together oncology professionals from around the world to learn, collaborate, and network across a variety of approaches, disciplines, professions, and interests, the ASCO Annual Meeting is the must-attend event in global cancer care. The conference offers opportunities for attendees to hear from the brightest minds in oncology on state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.

Crafted by 2018-2019 ASCO president Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO, the theme for this year’s meeting brings all patients with cancer, regardless of background, to the forefront. “Caring for Every Patient, Learning From Every Patient” drives home the message that every patient deserves equal access to the highest quality care and the opportunity to participate in research.   

“I believe in the promise of tomorrow and the discoveries that will expand our understanding of how to best prevent, treat, and ultimately conquer cancer,” said Dr. Bertagnolli. “The 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting will focus on a unique global exchange of information on how to drive progress and expand the reach of quality care for all patients.”

With more than 40,000 attendees and hundreds of presentations to attend, there are endless possibilities for what you can learn and how you will grow your network. The meeting provides a chance to explore the many facets that form the entire cancer care continuum, from prevention and screening to clinical trial enrollment and symptom management, as well as opportunities for personal reflection and storytelling on interpersonal aspects of cancer care.

“The ASCO Annual Meeting is the most exciting clinical oncology meeting of the year,” said Suzanne George, MD, chair of the 2019 Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee. “It is a time when a community of clinical oncology professionals comes together to learn new, practice-changing research and to connect with others in the field around the care of patients with cancer.”

2019 Scientific Program

This year, over 6,200 abstracts were submitted for consideration by the Scientific Program Committee. The committee, composed of 175 members with expertise in 22 tracks, reviews and discusses all abstracts to create thematic scientific sessions focused on the latest discoveries in cancer care. This year, approximately 2,450 abstracts were selected for presentation in Oral Abstract Sessions, Clinical Science Symposia, and Poster Sessions, plus more than 3,200 for online publication.

Attendees will see that immunotherapy and targeted therapies continue to be well represented among the abstracts presented, noted Dr. George. “And because of the major theme of the meeting, there were a number of abstracts submitted about disparities, about utilizing large data sets to minimize disparities and ensure that patients can have access to the best care. There’s all this emerging science we can use to actually effect these changes,” she said.

Plenary Session

The Plenary Session showcases abstract presentations of the top practice-changing science, with commentary from expert discussants, preceded by the Distinguished Achievement Award and Science of Oncology Award and Lecture. This is the can’t-miss session of the meeting, highlighting the most clinically relevant science that will change current cancer care.

The Plenary Session will be held in McCormick Place’s North Building, Hall B1, on Sunday, June 2, from 1 PM to 4 PM. Attendees can also watch the session via live simulcast in the East Building, Hall D1, and on ASCO Live TVs located throughout McCormick Place.

Attendees should also plan to attend the newly designed Post-Plenary Sessions, which are focused on the clinical application of each plenary abstract. The session will present clinical cases, discuss the treatment changes based on the new data just presented, and highlight how to consider different populations not included in the study design, FDA approvals, and possible changes to treatment guidelines.

Clinical Science Symposia

A perennially popular session offering in the Scientific Program, Clinical Science Symposia are designed to address a cross-cutting theme or hot topic in oncology while integrating abstracts from multiple tracks. Led by experts in the field, these symposia are composed of a presentation and discussion of three to four relevant abstracts. (Note: Session dates and times are subject to change; visit am.asco.org to view the most up-to-date program information as the meeting approaches.)

The following Clinical Science Symposia are planned for 2019:

  • “Fine-Tuning Checkpoint Inhibition: Biomarkers of Response and Resistance”
  • “Evidence, Care, Impact: Making Inroads Against Cancer Disparities“
  • “Using Real-World Data to Advance Research and Care”

2019 Educational Program

The Annual Meeting Education Program offers a robust portfolio of sessions that address the concerns and priorities of everyone in the cancer care space. These sessions are designed to teach and engage attendees across disciplines, as well as impart practical, take-home knowledge that can be applied to any and every cancer care setting. (Note: Session dates and times are subject to change; visit am.asco.org to view the most up-to-date program information as the meeting approaches.)

Opening Session

On Saturday, June 2, in Hall B1, ASCO will kick off the meeting with its Opening Session, which includes the Guest Speaker’s Address, Presidential Address, and David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture. In this year’s Opening Session, Dr. Bertagnolli will deliver the Presidential Address on her theme and its message: how to drive progress and expand the reach of quality care for all patients. (Following the presentation, the full transcript and video of the address will be available on ASCOconnection.org.)

ASCO is delighted to welcome Atul Gawande, MD, MPH, as the meeting’s keynote speaker. Dr. Gawande is an author, surgeon, and public health leader who is the CEO of the non-profit-seeking health care venture formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, and practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the founding executive director and chair of Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health systems innovation, and chair of Lifebox, a nonprofit organization making surgery safer globally. Dr. Gawande is a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Samuel O. Thier Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has written four New York Times bestselling books: Complications, Better, The Checklist Manifesto, and Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

The Opening Session will feature a special presentation from Edmond Ang, MBBCh, MRCP, a speaker at last year’s inaugural ASCO Voices session. Attendees will also hear from David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award recipient Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, FACP, FASCO, one of the world’s leading authorities on the management of breast cancer.

Educational Sessions

When curating the 2019 Education Program, the Annual Meeting Education Committee used the meeting’s theme to select sessions that focus on diversity and access, and how mitigating barriers to quality care ultimately leads to a better understanding and treatment of cancer.

“The idea behind these sessions is to address improving access to care and access to research,” said Colin D. Weekes, MD, PhD, 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting Education Committee chair. “In order to address the problems that come with access, we need to look at issues from the patient’s point of view, and many of these sessions will touch on multiple perspectives as well as alternative approaches to solving common problems. The ability to adapt our structures for how we conduct both clinical medicine and patient research is important for successfully broadening participation.

“As a result of increasing access to care and research, we are ultimately able to learn more. Instead of having a clinical trial population be homogenous, we’re working to include participants from diverse backgrounds so we can learn even more about a given drug,” he said.

A number of educational sessions relate back to the Annual Meeting theme, including:

  • “Academic-Community Partnerships: Approaches to Engagement”
  • “Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Trial Enrollment”
  • “Innovative and Affordable Global Cancer Technologies”
  • “Effective Cancer Pain Management in an Era of Opioid Aberrancy”
  • “Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Toxicities From Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors”

Establishing a Mutually Respectful Workplace

As part of ASCO’s Diversity in Oncology Initiative, the 2019 Annual Meeting includes the session “Establishing a Mutually Respectful Environment in the Workplace.” The session will be a thoughtful conversation on how racism, sexual harassment, and implicit bias exist in all corners of modern society, including health care.

“Diversity brings great value to the practice of medicine,” said Dr. Bertagnolli. “Human interactions are an essential component of our profession. As a result, our patients are best served by an environment that is enriched by diversity of cultures, ideas, experiences, and knowledge. We need every ASCO member to embrace the value of diversity so that we can support members of our community who have so far lagged behind in numbers as well as professional accomplishment.”

Session chair Charles R. Thomas Jr., MD, FASCO, will lead the conversation. Dr. Weekes; Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil; Shail Maingi, MD; William D. Tap, MD; and Narjust Duma, MD, will share their personal experiences and offer ways to navigate these prevalent and pertinent social issues. The session will be held in the Arie Crown Theater on Saturday, June 1, from 1:15 PM to 2:30 PM.

ASCO Voices

Now in its second year, the ASCO Voices session is an opportunity to explore different perspectives in oncology, medicine, and the world. Five speakers were selected to share their passions, stories, and perspectives—without notes or slides:

  • “Surgery Is Never Elegant When Women Are in the Operating Room” by Monica Morrow, MD, FASCO, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • “Whose Breast Is It Anyway? Breast Cancer and Sexuality in Sub-Saharan Africa” by Yehoda M. Martei, MD, MSCE, of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • “I Promised” by Ashley Love Sumrall, MD, FACP, of Levine Cancer Institute, Carolinas Medical Center
  • “Doing Everything” by Ishwaria Mohan Subbiah, MD, MS, of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • “The Obligation of the Cured” by Scott Capozza, MS, PT, of Smilow Cancer Hospital Adult Survivorship Clinic

ASCO Voices will be presented in the Arie Crown Theater on Saturday, June 1, from 12 PM to 1 PM (right after Opening Session).

ASCO Book Club

ASCO Book Club brings together meeting attendees to explore the human side of medicine. Now in its sixth year, this year’s session will feature David Scadden, MD, a hematologist/oncologist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and his book, Cancerland: A Medical Memoir. Everyone is welcome to attend (even if you haven’t read the book) as Dr. Scadden discusses his stories of loss and hope, and the promise of science and medicine in cancer treatment.

The session will be held on Saturday, June 1, from 4:45 PM to 6 PM. Books will be available for purchase onsite, and Dr. Scadden will be signing copies after the session.

ABIM/ASCO Medical Oncology Learning & Assessment: The New Alternate MOC Pathway

ASCO and the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) have been working together to create a more flexible pathway for medical oncologists to maintain board certification. Beginning in 2020, oncologists will be able to choose between the traditional 10-year Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam and the new Learning & Assessment option.

On Saturday, June 1, from 3 PM to 4:15 PM, a session at the Annual Meeting will include a presentation and panel discussion about the new pathway, including the opportunity to take shorter assessments that are reflective of physician practice with topic-focused exam modules and related educational materials provided before, during, and after exams. The new assessments will be available starting in 2020 and allow ABIM Diplomates to select from a choice of a General Medical Oncology, Breast Cancer, or Hematologic Malignancies modules, with more modules slated for 2022.

Joint Sessions at Annual Meeting

At the Annual Meeting, ASCO partners with like-minded organizations to host joint sessions on pertinent topics in oncology. The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) will join ASCO in hosting a session on “Global Access to Essential Medicines” on Saturday, June 1, from 1:15 PM to 2:30 PM. ASCO and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will host a session on “Histology-Agnostic Clinical Trials and Approvals—Challenges of Design and Implementation at the Bedside” on Monday, June 3, from 9:45 AM to 11:15 AM.

Friday Afternoon Workshops

Looking to take advantage of all the education opportunities at Annual Meeting? Friday’s workshops are a great way to soak up practical knowledge in a small-group setting. Workshop attendees will get the chance to experience hands-on learning in the following areas:

  • “Enhancing Cultural Literacy in Oncology: Strategies for Delivery of High-Quality Cancer Care”
  • “How to Initiate and Integrate Clinical Trials Into your Practice”
  • “Genomics for Oncologists 101”
  • “Grant Writing”

No tickets are required for the workshops, but seating is limited, so plan to arrive a little early.

2019 ASCO Annual Meeting Global Health Track

ASCO Annual Meeting attendees with an interest in global health will find a deep portfolio of relevant sessions. A preliminary program of global health-related sessions is below; check the 2019 iPlanner for the most updated program information, including session times and locations. Don’t forget to register for popular ticketed sessions in advance!

Friday, May 31

  • Improving Quality of Care and Patient Outcomes by Maximizing the Efficiency of the Oncology Team
  • Many Shades of Disparities in Myeloma Care

Saturday, June 1

  • Meet the Professors: Collecting and Using Patient-Reported Outcome Data in Clinical Practice to Improve Doctor/Patient Communication and Outcomes (Ticketed Session)
  • Meet the Professors: Quality-of-Care Improvement and Global Oncology Research (Ticketed Session)
  • The Management and Prevention of Anal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • ASCO/European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Joint Session: Global Access to Essential Medicines
  • Updated Approaches to Treatment Sequencing in the Era of M0CRPC Approvals (Interactive Case-Based Session)

Sunday, June 2

  • HPV Vaccination: Why Is It So Difficult to Implement a Vaccine That Prevents Cancer?
  • Choosing the Right Induction Regimen for Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma
  • Caring for Our Trainees: Lessons From Around the World
  • City Cancer Challenge: Changing the Future of Cancer in Urban Populations
  • Innovative and Affordable Global Cancer Technologies
  • Current and Future Aspects of Immunotherapy for Esophageal and Gastric Malignancies

Monday, June 3

  • International Collaborations and Regional Challenges in Sarcoma
  • Implementing Palliative and Supportive Care in Cancer Care Worldwide (Interactive Case-Based Session)

Tuesday, June 4

  • Emerging Landscapes in Liver Cancer

Educational Opportunities Before the Meeting

Attendees have the option of arriving a day early for even more opportunities to learn! For an added chance to network and immerse yourself in timely topics in oncology, ASCO will host Pre-Annual Meeting Seminars, which attendees can register for in addition to their Annual Meeting registration. The educational offerings have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

The Pre-Annual Meeting Seminars offer in-depth and extended educational opportunities for interested meeting attendees. They will be held onsite at McCormick Place from 1 PM to 5 PM on Thursday, May 30, and from 7:30 AM to 11 AM on Friday, May 31. Seminar registration includes a boxed lunch on Thursday and a continental breakfast on Friday. Three seminars are being offered this year:

  • “New Drugs in Oncology” focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of both recently and soon-to-be approved drugs. Topics covered include mechanisms of action, administration, toxicity and side-effect management, and use in the clinic. This seminar is approved for physician and pharmacist credits.
  • “(Re)Defining Value in Cancer Care: Priorities for Patients, Providers, and Health Systems” summarizes timely information on financial toxicity (impacting both practice sustainability and patient financial burden), innovative reimbursement, coverage, and treatment models. In the session, faculty will discuss strategies for overall cancer treatment spending and how clinicians can make better-informed decisions with patients, payers, and others. This seminar is approved for physician credits.
  • “Immuno-Oncology: Effectively Integrating Immunotherapy Into Today’s Clinical Practice” is cosponsored with the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, and addresses the need for continuing education of clinicians to provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive immunotherapy-based treatment options for their patients. This program will provide updates on utilizing immunotherapy in clinical practice across major disease sites, address important issues such as toxicity management, and look to the future of immunotherapy treatment. This seminar is approved for physician, pharmacist, and nursing credits.
  • “Genetics and Genomics for the Practicing Clinician” will offer foundational presentations providing information regarding genetic testing as well as genomic testing, including discussions of currently available techniques and implications on treatment and management. Other topics include how to set up a molecular tumor board and a session of interactive case presentations and discussion. This course is approved for physician and nursing credits.

Grow Your Professional Network

Along with exciting new scientific presentations and world-class educational programming, a significant benefit of attending the ASCO Annual Meeting is making face-to-face connections with some of the best and brightest in oncology. With over 6,120 seats designated for networking and numerous networking events, there are many opportunities to meet your next research collaborator, co-author, mentor, mentee, hiring manager, or new friend. Know for certain that you’ll be meeting with colleagues while onsite? You can reserve a Networking Table in McCormick Place for meetings of up to 10 people. Tables are available Friday, May 31, through Monday, June 3, and can be reserved online.

Women’s Networking Center

The Women’s Networking Center is a place to gather, discuss, and attend informal interactive panel discussions touching on the issues that affect women in oncology. The ASCO Professional Development Committee has developed programming that offers something for every woman, regardless of work setting, specialty, or career stage. Interested attendees can reserve time for one-on-one mentoring conversations in the center with a woman leader in the field of oncology.

Trainee & Early-Career Oncologist Member Lounge

Designed to support the career development needs of medical students, residents, fellows, and early-career oncologists, this space provides attendees with an opportunity to receive career advice and network with peers. Lounge visitors can expect to meet and learn from notable ASCO members through activities such as career development and science discussions, small-group Guided Poster Walks, one-on-one mentoring, and more. (Check out our guide for first-time attendees and trainee and early-career members.)

Abstract Forum for Medical Students and Residents

This annual two-part event highlights young researchers from ASCO’s medical student and resident programs, offering them an intimate venue to practice their presentation skills, network with peers, and receive advice on their research from experienced oncologists. All meeting attendees are welcome to join the audience for these presentations - check out the full schedule

Oncology Division Chiefs and Department Chairs Breakfast Session 

New this year, ASCO is offering a networking and educational event for oncology division chiefs and department
chairs. If you are a current chief/chair or an aspiring chief/chair, this session is for you! The breakfast session features ample opportunities for questions and audience discussion. It will take place on Saturday, June 1; breakfast begins at 7 AM, followed by panel presentations from 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM, in Room S103.

Lakeside Lounge

Lakeside Lounge, located in the East Building in front of Halls D1 and D2, offers space to unwind or meet with colleagues between sessions and take in the view of Lake Michigan. Here, attendees can charge devices, eat, listen to ASCO podcasts at the Podcast Listening Station, watch ASCO TV, and do some shopping at a Pop-Up Shop.

Follow the Annual Meeting on Social Media

Connect with ASCO on social media to keep up with the latest information from the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting. You won’t want to miss out on the conversation—last year, approximately 17,763 tweeters sent out 83,378 tweets using the meeting hashtag, with nearly 800 tweets an hour! Follow along and share your own meeting experience on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ASCO19. You can also follow ASCO’s Featured Voices, ASCO volunteers who have committed to leading a robust conversation throughout the meeting via Twitter. The list of Featured Voices will be announced on ASCO’s Twitter (@ASCO) in mid-May.

More Meeting Features and Getting Around

Childcare at McCormick Place

For the first time, ASCO will provide professional onsite childcare service during the Annual Meeting. Available Friday, May 31, through Tuesday, June 4, the program is designed for children 6 months to 12 years old and will include age-appropriate activities such as group games, arts and crafts, story time, and more. While it will be possible to register for childcare onsite, this service is being offered on a first-come, first-served basis; ASCO highly recommends registering in advance at am.asco.org.

Interact Tool Available in Sessions

Interact, powered by SYNC, will be available again this year to make session material even more accessible. Through the Interact platform, attendees can view session slides on personal devices, take notes directly on slides, and ask questions of the speakers. To fully embrace the interactive capabilities of this platform, ASCO is introducing a new session format: Interactive Case-Based Sessions. Numbering 24 total sessions across meeting tracks, these educational opportunities will use Interact to poll the audience during panel discussions on real-world cases. Don’t forget to bring your laptop or tablet! 

Chicago Transportation

Getting around Chicago just got a lot easier! For the first time, ASCO is providing meeting attendees with free Metra tickets, which can be used to commute to and from McCormick Place from Millennium Station. ASCO will continue to provide free shuttle service to and from all of its official hotels which aren’t within walking distance. Chicago has a variety of transportation options outside of Metra, including taxis, CTA (“L” train), Divvy Bikes, and app-based rideshares. Review the full list of transportation options.

Visit am.asco.org or download the 2019 iPlanner app for the most up-to-date session schedule, meeting information, and more.

Nursing Mothers’ Rooms

Inside Room N227a (North Building, Level 2), eight private rooms are available for use by nursing mothers. The rooms are open for use from Friday, May 31, through Tuesday, June 4. Each room will be equipped with a chair, table, power outlet, and refrigerator. Additionally, McCormick Place has also installed two new Mamava stations that nursing mothers can use.

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