Conquering Cancer with Knowledge and Education

Feb 23, 2012

Each year, oncology professionals from every discipline and specialty gather at the premier educational event in the field—the ASCO Annual Meeting—to learn about the most innovative advances and best practices in cancer treatment. Join us on June 1-5 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, for the latest science, expert-led educational sessions, and opportunities to network with colleagues from around the world.

Collaborating to Conquer Cancer The theme of the Society’s 48th Annual Meeting is “Collaborating to Conquer Cancer.” Chosen by 2011-2012 President Michael P. Link, MD, the theme emphasizes the partnerships that oncologists from across the spectrum—surgeons, medical oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and researchers—must form in order to determine the right treatment for patients. Collaboration extends from bench to bedside and includes all members of the patient care team, such as nurses, physician assistants, and social workers, who bring unique insights and specific expertise to cancer care. It also includes patients, with their concerns, desires, and needs that inform their treatment.

“The differences among the oncology disciplines are blurring,” said Dr. Link. “Thediseases we treat do not respect arbitrary age distinctions, and shared pathwaysand targets among diseases that are unlikely relatives suggest that partnershipsacross specialties and across cancer disease sites will become the rule. We mustlearn from and collaborate with each other.”

2012 Education Program

When one Annual Meeting ends, the work of ASCO’s Cancer Education Committee is just beginning. These member volunteers are responsible for developing the Meeting’s Education Program, designed to provide oncology professionals opportunities to discover and discuss the latest strategies on prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, translational research, and current controversies in the field. This half of the program includes Education Sessions, Extended Education Sessions, ticketed Clinical Problems in Oncology and Meet the Professor Sessions, and many of the Special Sessions. The committee’s work culminates in a two-day, in-person meeting at ASCO Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, to fine-tune session titles, focus topics, eliminate redundancies between tracks, and recommend expert faculty.

The Education Program reflects the concerns, priorities, and issues that affect every oncology professional. This year, look for sessions focused on the cost of and access to cancer care, survivorship, palliative care, clinical trial design, and global perspectives on cancers, among other hot topics. The program has a strong emphasis on biologic, genomic, and molecularly targeted treatments, immunotherapy, and personalized care.

The 2012 Education Program also features unique sessions on health care reform, drug shortages, physicians’ personal experiences with cancer, preventing and disclosing medical errors, gene patenting, and the effect of media and technology (including social media and online communities) on oncology practice and patients with cancer.

Preliminary session information by day is currently available at; select “Meeting Program,” then “Preliminary Session Information” on the left navigation bar. Look for the launch of ASCO’s interactive ePlanner, an up-to-date online version of the Meeting Program, in April. Abstract selection for the Scientific Program is currently underway; read more about those sessions in the upcoming May 2012 issue of ASCO Connection.

Abstracts selected for presentation (with the exception of late-breaking, plenary, and clinical review abstracts) will be available online May 16, 2012, at 6:00 PM EDT on

New for 2012: Provocative Questions, Productive Discussions
At approximately the same time that ASCO’s Cancer Education was developing the Education Program for the2012 Annual Meeting, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) developed 24 “Provocative Questions” about cancer ( in an effort to focus and guide oncology research priorities. It soon became clear that there were many areas of correlation between the two as the questions posed by the NCI and the topics slated for coverage by the Cancer Education Committee were born from the same fundamental inquiry: what do we need to know about cancer in order to advance the field and provide better care to patients?

Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Chair of the Cancer Education Committee, explained how the Provocative Questions and the 2012 Education Program connect: “What the 24 questions really show us are the collaborative areas in cancer care. The Cancer Education Committee thought it would be helpful for clinicians, investigators, and other cancer professionals to get some perspective on what these questions are, how to think about them, and hopefully contribute to that dialogue.”

According to Dr. Burstein, a number of the Provocative Questions address issues that oncologists deal with every day, including: “How do public health challenges like obesity and the environment play into the risk of developing cancer? How can biologic and genomic methods help us to better understand and better treat cancer? How can we come up with drug therapies for targets that have historically been considered ‘undruggable’? What is the nature of resistance?”

“The questions get to the whys andwherefores of cancer as it stands rightnow, and that’s what makes them socompelling,” said Dr. Burstein.Dr. Burstein and the Cancer EducationCommittee members hope thatby linking the shared concerns of theProvocative Questions with the EducationProgram, attendees will see theirparticipation in the Annual Meetingas part of the larger enterprise ofcancer care across the country. “Wehope,” said Dr. Burstein, “that it connectsthem to the very large nationaldiscussions about priorities in cancerresearch and treatment.”

For more insight into the 2012 AnnualMeeting Education Program, see theinterview with the Chair of the CancerEducation Committee, Harold J.Burstein, MD, PhD.

New for 2012: Core Sessions. In orderto help busy oncologists streamlinetheir Meeting experience and focustheir time, the Cancer Education Committeehas designated one or moreEducation Sessions in each track as“Core Sessions.” Core Sessions willhighlight the latest updates in scienceand clinical practice in that field, andmay include topics such as controversiesin a particular disease site, personalizedcare, and new developmentsin the field. To browse these sessions,look for the Core Sessions track in thepreliminary session information onlinenow or search by the Core Sessionstrack when the ePlanner launches inApril. (See the interview with Dr. Burstein onthe Core Sessions.)

Clinical Problems in Oncology. ClinicalProblems in Oncology (CPO) Sessionscombine case-based panel discussionwith interactive keypad technology foraudience participation. These sessionsare ticketed and require an additionalregistration fee. As of March 2012, 10CPO sessions will be offered on the followingtopics:

  • Multidisciplinary Management of Unusual Head and Neck Tumors
  • Chasing Melanoma: Management Issues from Primary Tumor to In-Transit Disease
  • Challenging Questions in the Neoadjuvant Management of Breast Cancer
  • Clinically Challenging Cases in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome, Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, and Bone Marrow Failure States
  • Toxicity from VEGF and mTORTargeted Agents in Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Challenging Lung Cancer Cases
  • Management of Uncommon Lymphomas: Primary Mediastinal Large-Cell, Mantle, and Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma
  • How and When Molecular Markers Should Be Used in a Neuro-oncology Practice
  • Integrating Testing for Hereditary Cancer Syndromes in the Oncology Practice

Meet the Professor. Meet the Professor (MTP) Sessions facilitate interactive discussion between attendees and recognized experts in a variety of subspecialty fields. The format is informal, with an emphasis on a face-to-face exchange with the expert. These sessions are ticketed and require an additional registration fee. As of March 2012, 22 MTP sessions will be offeredon the following topics:

  • Managing Carcinoid Tumors
  • Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma: Beyond Surgery
  • A Multidisciplinary Approach to Integrating Local Therapies with Systemic Approach in Soft Tissue Sarcomas
  • Lessons in Mentorship from a Successful Breast Oncologist
  • Implementing Geriatric Oncology Research in the Cooperative Groups
  • Treatment of the Patient with Castration- Resistant Prostate Cancer
  • BRCA Testing and PARP Inhibitors in the Treatment of Breast Cancer
  • Management of Brain Metastases in Women with Breast Cancer
  • Management of Relapsed Refractory Myeloma
  • Current State of the Art in Managing Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
  • Selection Criteria for Universal Screening and Prevention of Lynch Syndrome
  • Paraganglioma: Genetics in Action
  • Optimal Use of Hypomethylating Agents and New Strategies
  • Interpreting the Colorectal Cancer Pathology Report: New and Potentially Overlooked Information
  • Bringing Personalized Cancer Therapy into Routine Use
  • Immune-Related Adverse Events (IrAEs) of CTLA-4 Blockade: Patient Selection, Recognition, and Management of IrAEs
  • Advanced Cervical Cancer: Going with the Evidence
  • Lessons Learned in Drug Development for Children with Cancer
  • Developing Patient-Centered Quality Metrics in Oncology Care: Where We Are and Where We’re Going
  • Assessing Patients’ Psychosocial Well-Being in Clinical Practice: Practical Considerations
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy: Weighing the Evidence
  • Stage I Testicular Cancer Management Options: Surgery, Radiation, Chemotherapy, or Surveillance

For schedules and information on registering for ticketed sessions, visit; select “Registration and Housing Information,” then “Ticketed Sessions” on the left navigation bar.

eQ&A. Educational sessions with “eQ&A” offer enhanced audience participation through the use of web and mobile technologies. At any time during the session, attendees can send questions to faculty by text message, email, or Twitter. Floor microphones will also be available. As of March 2012, nine eQ&A sessions will be offered on the following topics (*denotes Core Session):

  • Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer: New Insights into Biology and Treatment*
  • Recent Innovations in the Management of Genitourinary Cancers
  • Key Questions In the Loco-regional Treatment of Breast Cancer*
  • Stage III Colon Cancer: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why, and What’s Next
  • Endpoints for Cancer Trials in 2012: Statistical, Regulatory, and Clinical Perspectives*
  • Angiogenic Targeting after 10 Years of Clinical Trials and Practice*
  • Treatment of Older Patients with Advanced Cancer: Balancing Efficacy with Toxicity*
  • Possible Impact of the Proposed Changes to the Common Rule on Clinical Trial Practice
  • Using Social Media in Oncology for Education and Patient Engagement*

Joint Sessions. The ASCO president and presidents of oncology-focused organizations around the world organize joint sessions to present topics of interest to oncology professionals across disciplines and specialties. Seven joint sessions featuring panel members from ASCO and sister societies will be offered in 2012:

  • ASCO/Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Joint Session
  • ASCO/American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Joint Session
  • ASCO/Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Joint Session: The Changing Paradigm of Cancer Care after the United Nations Summit
  • ASCO/European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) Joint Session
  • ASCO/Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) Joint Session: PET Criteria for Response Assessment and Timing of the Scans
  • ASCO/American Society of Hematology (ASH) Joint Session
  • ASCO/Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Joint Session: The Risks/Benefits of Cardioprotection in Children with Cancer

ASCO recognizes with gratitude the volunteers of the Cancer Education Committee who dedicated their time and expertise to prepare the 2012 Education Program. Find a complete list of committee members at; select “About the Meeting,” then “Cancer Education Committee” on the left navigation bar.

What’s New in 2012

The upcoming Annual Meeting will feature several new events and resources developed to meet attendee needs.

Pre-Annual Meeting Seminars. Before the Annual Meeting opens, ASCO is offering three in-depth educational opportunities dedicated to topics of interest in the oncology community ( Each seminar will be held at McCormick Place between 1:00 PM on Thursday, May 31, and 12:00 PM on Friday, June 1, and will feature focused learning from world-renowned faculty in an intimate setting:

  • Clinical Care in Oncology for the Advanced Practice Provider, cosponsored by the Association of Physician Assistants in Oncology (APAO) and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). This seminar is designed to meet the educational needs of the advanced practice nurse and physician assistant. Topics covered will include trends in oncology care, standards for cancer screening, and symptom and side-effect management. Attendees will learn about the latest translational research and valuable clinical practice techniques to optimize patient outcomes and advance high-quality cancer care.
  • Designs for Contemporary Early-Phase Clinical Trials, cosponsored by the Society for Clinical Trials (SCT). This discussion-based seminar will bring together expert statisticiansand clinicians to discuss thedesign, implementation, and analysisof early-phase clinical trials. Topicscovered will include pathway-driventrials, adaptive features of trials,innovative phase I trials, endpoints,Simon optimal designs, selectiondesigns, and enrichment.
  • New Drugs in Oncology. This seminar will focus on the theoretical and practical aspects of the newest oncology drugs, including recent drug approvals as well as emerging therapies on their way to approval. Topics covered will include mechanisms of action, administration, toxicity, and side-effect management of these agents, as well as their use in the clinic. Attendees will gain firsthand information directly from researchers and experts and discuss unbiased academic, regulatory, clinical, and industry perspectives.

These one-day seminars are not part of the official Meeting program; however, attendees can register for the sessions as part of their regular Annual Meeting registration. Registration is $100 for ASCO, APAO, ONS, or SCT members ($150 for nonmembers) and includes a boxed lunch on Thursday and continental breakfast on Friday. Attendees are encouraged to register early as space is limited. The seminars have each been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Networking Cafes. Networking Cafes will be located throughout McCormick Place for colleagues to meet and discuss the exciting science and education taking place at the Meeting. Look for clusters of round tables near concession areas to take a break from your busy schedule, catch up with colleagues, grow your circle of professional contacts, and enhance your Annual Meeting experience.


ASCO Daily News. Full versions of the print ASCO Daily News will be available online at along with bonus live coverage and complementary video clips. Online readers are invited to “Discuss the Science” in the ASCO Daily News forum by visiting the ASCO Daily News site on or by going directly to the ASCO Daily News Forum on To post a comment, log in with an ASCO member or guest account username and password.

Industry Expert Theater. ASCO will hold a free Industry Expert Theater in the Oncology Professionals Hall, where exhibitors will have the opportunity to give live (non-accredited) educational presentations about theirproducts and resources.

By: Virginia Anderson,Senior Writer/Editor

Products and Resources: Smart Meeting, Smart Choices

The 2012 Meeting offers products and resources to suit your preferred method of access

At the 2012 Annual Meeting, ASCO will leverage all available technologies to quickly and accurately deliver information to attendees. Look for streamlined publications that are available in digital and print formats, point to the most up-to-date online resources, and are optimized for viewing on iPads, tablet computers,and smartphones.


Onsite at the Annual Meeting, all attendees will receive the eTote, a USB drive containing the Annual Meeting Proceedings Part I and Educational Book. A convenience package of these publications in print can be purchased for $15,either online prior to the Meeting or onsite.

Attendee Resource Center

Skip the Lines and Download Publications before the Meeting
Prior to the Annual Meeting, attendees can download PDFs of the Annual Meeting Proceedings and Educational Book from the Attendee Resource Center ( and read them where and when they want, including in planes, trains, and automobiles en route to the Meeting. The Attendee Resource Center is scheduled to launch on April 25. Both publications will be available via the Attendee Resource Center in a variety of digital formats:

Annual Meeting Proceedings Part I (Available after the May 16 abstract launchat 6:00 PM on

  • Annual Meeting Proceedings Part I download
  • Abstracts by track download
  • ePub download for digital readers

Educational Book (Available April 25)

  • Educational Book download
  • Educational articles by track download
  • ePub and Kindle download for digital readers

Virtual Meeting

New for 2012: Virtual Meeting, which is included in Annual Meeting registration, now includes access to content for the iMeeting mobile app. This one product gives access to Annual Meeting presentations in three different ways:

  1. Computer. View presentations via streaming video.
  2. Podcast. Download selected presentations to your computer (burn a CD) or to a handheld device (compatible with MP3 or MP4).
  3. Mobile App (iMeeting). A free app for iPad and iPhone. Presentations are arranged by track and are viewed by streaming video. Visit for additional information.


The ePlanner, the online version of the Annual Meeting Program, allows users to search the program for sessions, speakers, or topics of interest and create a customized schedule. The ePlanner will be accessible through either or the Attendee Resource Center in April.


The iPlanner, the Annual Meeting Program app, allows users to search or browse sessions and view related abstracts, articles, and tweets, as well as create a customized schedule that syncs with the online meeting program (the ePlanner), so that itinerary changes made online will automatically update to the mobile version. The iPlanner will be available for Apple and Android devices in April.

For the latest information on the ASCO Annual Meeting and to register and book accommodations, visit

Annual Meeting Education Program Reflects Collaborative Approaches, State-of-the-Art Care

The Annual Meeting Education Sessions bring together hundreds of the best clinicians and educators in cancer care to share perspectives on the most important clinical issues in the field. Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Chair of the Cancer Education Committee that developed this year’s sessions, discusses the philosophy behind the 2012 Education Program.

AC: The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting is “Collaborating to Conquer Cancer.” How do you see that reflected in the Education Program?
Dr. Burstein: One theme is collaboration between science and clinical care. We are using advances in science to help clinicians better understand and treat disease, and some of our sessions will give insights into the growing reliance we have on science to guide our treatments. Another collaboration is between multidisciplinary providers. Patients with cancer are treated by medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, nurses, geneticists, social workers, and many other health professionals. We’ve tried to construct multidisciplinary sessions led by a diverse panel of experts, talking about the contributions each discipline will bring to a specific cancer problem. The third major area of collaboration we considered is between the health care team and the patients themselves. We have several sessions devoted to organizing clinical practice, communicating with patients, having a dialogue about culturally different perspectives in cancer care, and thinking about survivorship.

AC: Why did the committee decide to designate some Education Sessions as “Core” this year?
Dr. Burstein: Busy cancer specialists come to the Meeting asking, “What do I need to know right now to take care of the most common clinical situations that I see, and how can I find that focused information in an efficient way?” The idea is that if you go to a Core Session in a major disease site or track, you will come away knowing all you need to know about the state of the art for caring for patients with that condition. We’ve scheduled Core Sessions such that there is minimal overlap with one another, allowing attendees to go to many of them. We’ve focused on attracting fantastic faculty—the best speakers and the best educators from across the globe—for these sessions.

AC: What do you hope attendees take away from this year’s Education Program?
Dr. Burstein: Our overriding goal is that attendees will leave feeling good about managing the various cancer cases that they encounter. The science in cancer care is moving very fast, and we want to be sure that oncologists are able to understand and use that science to the betterment of their patients. Finally, we want the Education Program to be stimulating and to resonate with their own work experience. We’ve really worked hard to identify themes and faculty to make that happen.

AC: What sessions are you most looking forward to attending?
Dr. Burstein: There’s a very special session about when the doctor becomes the patient. The speakers are oncologists who have had cancer themselves or have cared for family members with cancer, talking about what they learned as physicians from the experience of being on the other side of the examining room. It promises to be a unique and powerful session.

Chicago Events June 1-5

In addition to its many fine museums, shopping, and sights, Chicago offers numerous options for entertainment. A sampling is outlined below; visit tosee updated venue calendars and event schedules as the Annual Meeting approaches.


Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field
Friday, June 1, 7:10 PM (vs. Seattle Mariners)
Saturday, June 2, 3:10 PM (vs. Seattle Mariners)
Sunday, June 3, 1:10 PM (vs. Seattle Mariners)
Tuesday, June 5, 7:10 PM (vs. Toronto Blue Jays)


Jersey Boys at Bank of America Theatre
Friday, June 1, 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 2, 2:00 PM
and 8:00 PM

The Iceman Cometh at Goodman Theatre
Friday, June 1, 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 2, 7:00 PM
Sunday, June 3, 1:30 PM

Hairspray at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook Terrace
Friday, June 1, 8:00 PM
Saturday, June 2, 8:00 PM
Sunday, June 3, 2:00 PM
and 6:00 PM

Timon of Athens at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier
Friday, June 1, 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 2, 3:00 PM
and 8:00 PM
Sunday, June 3, 2:00 PM


Rapsodie Espagnole, Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Chicago Symphony Center
Friday, June 1, 1:30 PM
Saturday, June 2, 8:00 PM
Tuesday, June 5, 7:30 PM

Tribute to Fats Waller with Jason Moran (jazz piano) at Chicago Symphony Center
Friday, June 1, 8:00 PM

The Collaborative Pianist at Chicago Symphony Center
Sunday, June 3, 3:00 PM

Years with the Chicago Chamber Musicians at Harris Theater
Monday, June 4, 7:30 PM

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons at The Chicago Theatre
Saturday, June 2, 8:00 PM

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