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2013 Best of ASCO - Lebanon: Timely Oncology Updates and Celebrations in the Middle East Despite Political Instabilities and Turmoil

Jul 23, 2013

By Nagi S. El Saghir, MD; Khaled M. Ibrahim, MD; and Georges Chahine, MD

Photographer: Hasan Nisr 
 Nuhad Ibrahim, MD and Amer Karam, MD, receive
 awards at 2013 Best of ASCO - Lebanon
Three weeks after the ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago, despite political instabilities and security concerns in the country and region, the Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology, licensed by ASCO, held its eighth annual Best of ASCO meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, with speakers and 260 attendees from Lebanon, the Arab states, Europe, and the United States.


The Planning Committee continued the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting theme and added to it with “Building Bridges to Conquer Cancer, and the science goes on,” in reference to political instabilities and turmoil in the Arab region. 2013 Best of ASCO - Lebanon emphasized that scientists continue their research and oncologists continue their education in order to provide their patients with the best and most updated oncology knowledge.

The 2013 Best of ASCO - Lebanon Planning Committee announced the meeting and program before the ASCO Annual Meeting, and worked very hard to update and finalize the choice and assignment of speakers for presented abstracts, to ensure that people who presented the data were experts or knowledgeable about the subject, as well as good speakers and discussants.

Presentations and discussions

The meeting was held over two days and 66 abstracts were selected for presentation. Feedback was very positive. The Planning Committee maintained its presence throughout the meeting, making sure that data was presented “as is” from the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting. Expert presenters were allowed to add their comments in one or two “non-ASCO” slides at the end of their presentations. Attendees enjoyed hearing the conclusions and to inform their future perspectives and to use in their clinical practice.

Most importantly, attendees liked locally relevant issues, and plenty of discussions followed presentations that related to common clinical entities, such as new breast cancer adjuvant tamoxifen 10-year data from the aTTom study, chemotherapy schedules, combination therapies, and studies of metastatic colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma, among others. The audience, composed mostly of general oncologists in Lebanon and other Arab countries, enjoyed the hematology sessions on leukemias, myelodysplasias, lymphomas, and myelomas. We think this is the case in many parts of the world, and the inclusion of hematologic malignancies at 2013 Best of ASCO - Lebanon is very useful and important. The response to new research and clinical trials, especially the rapidly expanding field of targeted therapies, was overwhelming.

People appreciated the summaries and the opportunity to hear the most important abstracts grouped in the Best of ASCO package. Some participants attended both the ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago and the Best of ASCO meeting in Beirut, and liked listening again to what they heard at the Annual Meeting and attending sessions that they missed in Chicago. However, the majority of attendees had not been to the 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting, and appreciated the timely oncology updates.

Plenary Session and Educational Sessions

Extensive discussions followed the study from India on screening for cervical cancer using the low-cost visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) technique, which is easy for nonspecialists to implement. Two Educational Sessions were also added this year. The multidisciplinary breast cancer session included medical oncology, surgery, and radiation oncology topics, and was one of the most popular sessions. We were reminded that oncologists and trainees, as well as oncology nurses, look forward to updated summaries and literature overviews that relate to their daily practice.

The Best of ASCO - Lebanon Planning Committee noted that abstracts discussed at the Plenary Session at the ASCO Annual Meeting are dispersed at Best of ASCO and placed within the related organ-oriented sessions. A “Plenary Session, again” session at Best of ASCO may be a good option to make sure that the highest number of people benefit from the highest-rated ASCO Plenary Session research.

Opening Ceremony

This year, the meeting’s Opening Session incorporated a speech by Antoine Boustani, MD, President of the Lebanese Order of Physicians, who presented Dr. Nagi El Saghir with an “Outstanding Excellence Award,” and a presentation on the ASCO International Affairs Committee portfolio and activities by Dr. El Saghir, who serves as both President of Best of ASCO - Lebanon and Chair of the committee. People who attended the meeting enjoyed learning about ASCO-sponsored or -endorsed courses, volunteer work, International Development and Education Award (IDEA) grants, Innovation Grants, in-training examinations (ITE) for fellows, the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®), and other programs.

Medals of appreciation were given to Guest Speakers Ghassan Abou-Alfa, MD, Ahmad Awada, MD, PhD, Nuhad Ibrahim, MD, Amer Karam, MD, Fadlo Khuri, MD, Eileen O’Reilly, MD, and Dr. El Saghir.

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Nagi S. El Saghir, MD, FACP; American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon; President, Best of ASCO - Lebanon; Chair, ASCO International Affairs Committee 2013-2014

Khaled M. Ibrahim, MD; Hammoud University Hospital, Saida, Lebanon; Coordinator, Best of ASCO - Lebanon

Georges Chahine, MD; Hotel Dieu de France Hospital, St. Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon; President, Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology

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