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ASCO International One Year Later: A Letter from ASCO CEO Dr. Allen Lichter

Mar 11, 2014

Last February, ASCO launched ASCO International – a portfolio of international programs that improve cancer care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries – and a commitment to expand that portfolio over the next four years. This launch was made in concert with the broader recognition by the international community of the current and growing threat posed by cancer and other non-communicable diseases around the world. So one year later, what has been accomplished?

To answer this question, I would like to invite you to visit the ASCO International web page where we have compiled statistics and impact information (please click here). In twelve short months, we trained hundreds of doctors and nurses in cancer care, cancer research and palliative care in locations as diverse as Kenya, Oman, and Russia (and in 10 countries in all) and, more importantly, these trainees are changing their practices as a result. In collaboration with our partner, Health Volunteers Overseas, we sent International Cancer Corps volunteers to hospitals in Bhutan, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Honduras, where, for example, the safe administration of chemotherapy has improved markedly as a result.

Also in the past year, we held true to our commitment to make available to our members outside of the United States programs that have been proven beneficial in the United States. These programs include the Medical Oncology In-Training Exam (now taken by training programs around the world), piloting the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) in South America and Europe, and the Leadership Development Program, which selected Dr. Monica Malik of India.

Also as part of ASCO International, this past year the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO launched the first Innovation Grants, a new award that funds cancer control solutions in low- and middle-income countries. The first four awards will fund research in Nigeria, Tanzania, Colombia, and Myanmar. We look forward to hearing the findings of this research at a future ASCO.

Finally, one of the proudest moments for me personally in the past year was when the number of ASCO members who practice outside the United States reached the milestone of 10,000 strong. Nothing reflects better the truly amazing diversity of perspectives and yet unity of purpose that ASCO represents.

While there is much more to be done, I hope you agree that ASCO is making real strides to serve the needs and interests of its membership. We welcome your ideas and suggestions as we go down this path. And thank you for being a member of ASCO.

—Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO, ASCO CEO

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