The 2013 ASCO Annual Meeting Preview and Education Program Highlights: Building Bridges to Conquer Cancer

Feb 27, 2013

Oncology professionals from around the globe will convene at the Society’s 49th Annual Meeting in Chicago to learn about, discuss, and debate the most innovative advances and best practices in cancer treatment. Along with the latest in scientific presentations and expert-led education sessions, the ASCO Annual Meeting offers unparalleled opportunities to network with colleagues and to garner international attention for the major issues facing the profession, patients with cancer, and the growing cancer burden worldwide.

The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting, chosen by 2012-2013ASCO President Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP, of the Washington CancerInstitute at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center, is aptly titled“Building Bridges to Conquer Cancer.” The themeemphasizes overcoming barriers to quality care through interconnectionbetween all segments of the oncology community.

“We need to close the gap in health care disparities, connectscience with the clinic, and ultimately bring the highest quality ofcancer care to patients. Whether I am talking to clinicians, healthcare policymakers, oncology researchers, or government workers fromacross the globe, I have found that we can and must learn from oneanother,” Dr. Swain said. “My hope is that thisAnnual Meeting will be an opportunity for our diverse membership andMeeting attendees to come together to identify gaps and areas in needof improvement and then, after learning from one another, implementstrategies of change.”


ASCO’s Education Program reflects the concerns, priorities,and issues that affect every oncology professional. Look formultidisciplinary sessions that emphasize collaborative care in themanagement of different cancers; topics relevant to daily practice(such as the treatment of thromboses, the use of sentinel lymph nodebiopsy, PSA screening for prostate cancer, and surveillance andmonitoring of breast cancer survivors); closing gaps in healthdisparities; tools for delivering high-quality care (includingsupportive care, palliative care, symptommanagement, adherence to oral chemotherapy, effective communicationwith patients, and optimization of health information technology);global health challenges in oncology; and understanding andtargeting molecular pathways. While onsite at the Annual Meeting, lookfor a new column in ASCO Daily News that will provide in-depth,physician-authored explorations of several molecular pathways.

“The emphasis on pathways was driven by the increase in ourunderstanding of cancer pathogenesis and progression at the molecularlevel and the knowledge that several pathways are implicated in thegrowth of cancer. Several efforts for providing personalized treatmentbased on tumor characteristics will help pave the path toward improvedcancer care. These sessions will describe specific molecular pathways,review the basic biology, and demonstrate how our current drugs thattarget these pathways are best used in the clinic. They were carefullycrafted so that they are led by a diverse panel of experts to discussthe state of the art in thefield,” said Antoinette R. Tan, MD, ofthe Cancer Institute of New Jersey andChair of the Cancer Education Committee,which developed the EducationProgram.

Tiesto NCI’s “Provocative Questions”
As it did last year, the Cancer EducationCommittee will note areas of correlationbetween Education Sessionsand the 24 “Provocative Questions”in cancer research developed by theNational Cancer Institute (NCI). Thisyear, the Provocative Questions aredivided into four areas:

  • cancer prevention and risk
  • mechanisms of tumordevelopmentor recurrence
  • tumor detection, diagnosis,andprogress
  • cancer therapy and outcomes

Oncology professionals interested inexploring these questions further duringthe Annual Meeting can refer tothe “Meeting Program” section

Preliminarysession information

Preliminary session information by dayis currently available at Look for thelaunch of ASCO’s interactive iPlanner,an up-to-date online version of theMeeting Program, in April.

Coresessions—streamline yourexperience, focus your time
For the second year, the Cancer EducationCommittee has designated oneor more Education Sessions in eachtrack as “Core Sessions” in order tohelp busy oncologists streamline theirMeeting experience and focus theirtime. Core Sessions will highlight thelatest updates in science and clinicalpractice in that field and may includetopics such as controversies in a particulardisease site, personalized care,and new developments in the field.

To browse these sessions, look for theCore Sessions track in the preliminary session information online in earlyMarch or search by the Core Sessionstrack when the iPlanner launchesin April.

Internationalsessions of interest

From its inception, ASCOhas relied on the expertise and insightof oncology professionals around theglobe. The Annual Meeting has alsohistorically reflected international perspectivesand concerns.

This year, numerous sessions in theEducation Program will address globalissues in cancer care. “We aimed forgeographic diversity in faculty speakerselection and global perspectives on arange of topics, including the managementof lung cancer, delivery of cancercare, cancer control plans, and implementationof personalized medicine,”said Dr. Tan.

Two sessions will be of particular interestto oncology professionals interestedin global health. A Special Session,Cancer Control Plans: Challenges,Failures, and Success Stories, will featurepresentations by the Chair of theASCO International Affairs CommitteeDavid Khayat, MD, PhD, of Salpêtrière Hospital,France; Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, FACP, of the University of Texas MDAnderson Cancer Center; Carlos Vallejos Sologuren, MD, FACP, ofOncosalud, Peru; and Peter Boyle, DSc, PhD, of the InternationalPrevention Research Institute, France.

A Joint Session created in collaboration with the European Society ofMedical Oncology, Discovering Breast Cancer: A Map to the New World,will be Co-Chaired by Dr. Swain and ESMO President Martine J. Piccart,MD, PhD, of Institut Jules Bordet, Belgium.


Attendees from outside the United States can find travel assistance andvisa information online

At the Annual Meeting, the International Assistance Desk will be opendaily (Friday: 1:00 PM–6:00 PM, Saturday to Monday: 7:00AM–6:00 PM, Tuesday: 7:00 AM–1:00 PM) in theConcierge Services area of McCormick Place (North Building, GrandConcourse Lobby).

Interpreters will be available to assist attendees in Spanish, French,German, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. Inaddition, representatives from ASCO’s International AffairsDepartment can provide information on international sessions at theAnnual Meeting and international activities (including educationprograms, grants, and membership information).

Popularsession types
ASCO will continue to offer its popular Clinical Problems in Oncologyand Meet the Professor sessions. These sessions are ticketed andrequire an additional registration fee; advanced registration isstrongly encouraged. For schedules and information on registering forticketed sessions, visit

ClinicalProblems in Oncology (CPO) Sessionscombine case-based panel discussion with interactive keypad technologyfor audience participation. As of March 2013, 10 CPO sessions will beoffered on the following topics:

  • Uncommon LymphoproliferativeDisorders
  • Management of ChallengingGenitourinary Tumors
  • Treatment of Patients withLocally Advanced Rectal Cancer and Liver Metastases
  • The Need for aMultidisciplinary Approach in Sarcoma
  • More Mastectomies: Why?Controversies in the Management of Borderline and Locally AdvancedAdenocarcinoma of the Pancreas
  • Management Decisions inAcute Myelogenous Leukemia
  • Locally Advanced Head andNeck Cancer Tumor Board
  • Securing the Best Outcomesfor Gliomas Using Current Tools
  • Childhood Cancers: ToTransplantor Not To Transplant

Meetthe Professor (MTP) Sessionsfacilitate interactive discussion between attendees and recognizedexperts in a variety of subspecialty fields. The format is informal,with an emphasis on a face-to-face exchange with the expert. As ofMarch 2013, 16 MTP sessions will be offered on thefollowing topics:

  • Relating to Patients on aHumanistic or Spiritual Level: How Physicians Can Make a Difference
  • Ovarian Cancer RiskReductionfor High-Risk Patients: CurrentStandards of Care
  • Central Nervous SystemMetastasis and Lung Cancer: ManagementChallenges
  • T-cell Lymphomas
  • Management of ChronicLymphocytic Leukemia
  • Practical Aspects of CancerGenomic Counseling
  • Toxicity Patterns of CommonTherapies Used in Prostate andKidney Cancers
  • Building PhilanthropicBridges in Oncology
  • Therapeutic MetabolicModulationof Gliomas
  • Sequencing of New EffectiveTreatments for Metastatic Melanoma
  • Role of Stem CellTransplantationfor the Treatment of Hematologic Malignancies
  • Management of OropharynxCancer in the HPV Era: Intensifyor De-intensify?
  • The GIST of It: TranslatingandClinical Science Trial Results
  • Colorectal Liver Metastases:Systemic versus Nonsystemic Options
  • Approaches to RecurrentOvarian Cancer
  • Childhood Cancer Care: HowDo We Succeed in the Current Economy?

SeveralEducation Sessions have been designated as eQ&Asessions, which offerenhanced audience participation through the use of web and mobiletechnologies. At any time during the session, attendees can sendquestions to faculty by text message, email, or Twitter. Floormicrophones will also be available. As of March 2013, nine eQ&Asessions will be offered on the following topics:

  • Raising the Bar: SettingStandards for Real Progress in Clinical Trials
  • Strategies to OvercomeClinical, Regulatory, and Financial Challenges in Implementation ofPersonalized Medicine
  • Multiplex Genetic Testingfor Inherited Cancer Risk: Pros and Cons
  • Is Age Just a Number?Adjuvant Therapy Decision Making for Older and/or Frail Patients withCancer
  • State-of-the-Art Updates andControversies in Lymphoma Therapy
  • Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors inYoung and Slightly Older Patients
  • Peritoneal Cancers, HeatedControversy
  • A Critical Approach toJournalArticles and Presentations: WhyYou Shouldn’t Believe Everything You Read
  • Increasing the ReliabilityofPreclinical Research

The ASCO President and Presidents of oncology-focused organizationsaround the world organize JointSessions to present topics ofinterest to oncology professionals across disciplines and specialties.Four Joint Sessions featuring panel members from ASCO and othersocieties will be offered in 2013:

  • ASCO/American AssociationforCancer Research (AACR) JointSession: Metastasis
  • ASCO/American Society ofHematology (ASH) Joint Session
  • ASCO/European Society forMedical Oncology (ESMO) Joint Session:Discovering Breast Cancer—A Map to the New World
  • ASCO/Society of NuclearMedicine (SNM) Joint Session: PET/CT in Clinical Practice:Evidence-Based Use and Appropriateness Criteria

Abstract selection for the Scientific Program is currently underway;read more about those sessions in the upcoming May 2013 issue of ASCOConnection. Abstracts selected for presentation (with the exception ofLate-Breaking, Plenary, and Clinical Review Abstracts, which arereleased daily during the Meeting) will be available online on May 15,2013, at 6:00 PM EST on

Newthis year: Core Session Maintenance of Certification Activity
The Annual Meeting Core Session Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Self-Assessment Activity is designed for Meeting attendees who want torefresh their knowledge, update their skills, or prepare for theirboard certification or MOC examination.

The activity consists of a pretest intended to highlight areas ofeducational need. Based on their results, participants will receive acustomized list of Core Sessions to attend to fill knowledge gaps.After attending the Meeting, participants who successfully complete apost-examination will be eligible to claim 10 MOC points inSelf-Assessment of Medical Knowledge.

Sign up soon if you are interested as the deadline for registration forCore Session Maintenance of Certification Activity is May 17.

Pre-AnnualMeeting Seminars
For the second year, ASCO is offering in-depth educationalopportunities dedicated to topics of interest in the oncologycommunity. Each seminar will be held onsite at McCormick Place, from1:00 PM on Thursday, May 30, until 11:00 AM on Friday, May 31.

Register at; the seminar registration fee includes aboxed lunch on Thursday and continental breakfast on Friday. Theseseminars have been approved for AMA PRACategory 1 Credit™.

ClinicalCare in Oncology for the Advanced Practice Provider
This seminar is designed to meet the educational needs of the advancedpractice nurse and physician assistant. Topics covered will includetrends in oncology care, standards for cancer screening, and symptomand side-effect management. This seminar is cosponsored by theAssociation ofPhysician Assistants in Oncology and the Oncology Nursing Society.

NewDrugs in Oncology
This seminar’s focus is the theoretical and practical aspectsof both recently approved drugs and those on their way to approval.Topics covered will include mechanisms of action, administration,toxicity, side-effect management, and use in the clinic.

Designsfor ContemporaryEarly-Phase Clinical Trials
This seminar will enable participants to understand the design,implementation, and analysis of early-phase clinical trials. Thisseminar is cosponsored by the Society of Clinical Trials.

Geneticsand Genomics for the Practicing Clinician
This seminar will focus on cancer genomics and cancer geneticsspecifically for the clinician. It will cover tumor and germ-linetopics, as well as explain the variety of tests available to theclinician and when they should be administered.

What’s Dr. Tan attending?
The Chair of the Cancer Education Committee, Dr.Antoinette Tan, shares three sessions she’s planningto attend and why she’s looking forward to them:

  • Surveillance and Monitoring in Breast Cancer Survivors: Maximizing Benefit and Minimizing Harm—“This is a session on monitoring patients with breast cancer after completion of treatment, which will review the guidelines for tumor markers and follow-up imaging in this setting and address imaging evidence and patient concerns. This is an important session as it relates directly to one of the items in ASCO’s Top Five list in oncology.”
  • Pushing the Limits of Upfront Care and Drug Development: Neoadjuvant Opportunities in Breast Cancer—“This is a Special Session on a novel approach to expedite drug development in breast cancer using pathologic complete response as an endpoint to support accelerated drug approval, which should be interesting and informative. This session’s focus is on a novel pathway of accelerated approval of promising drugs to treat high-risk, early-stage breast cancer.”
  • Beyond the Science of Illness: The Personal Impact of Patient Care on Physicians—“This is a unique session on the personal impact of patient care on physicians. This builds upon last year’s moving session in which speakers were oncologists who had cancer or cared for family members with cancer. This year’s session will feature the perspectives of oncologists from different professions and include a journal editor, a pediatric oncologist, and an adult oncologist.”
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