The Cancer Portals: Oncology’s “Information Superhighway”

Sep 12, 2011

The Internet became synonymous with the phrase “information superhighway” in the 1990s because of its worldwide capability to facilitate the rapid exchange of information. One of the unintended byproducts of this great leap forward has been information overload. Oncology professionals already under fierce time constraints can end up wasting precious time navigating through a maze of resources.

To help oncology professionals stay abreast of the rapidly changing knowledge base in the most efficient manner possible, ASCO recently upgraded its search-optimized gateway to disease-specific content—the Cancer Portals.

“The field of oncology changes so fast,” said Christopher G. Azzoli, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “The only way to keep up with the fast pace of medical progress is to recognize that the Web is the platform of the future for medical education.” In addition—because “quality care is information-based,” said Dr. Azzoli—the Cancer Portals ultimately facilitate improved patient care.

Currently, 11 Cancer Portals arefeatured on

  • Breast Cancer

  • Gastrointestinal Cancer

  • Genitourinary Cancers

  • Gynecologic Cancers

  • Head and Neck Cancer

  • Hematologic Cancer

  • Lung Cancer

  • Melanoma

  • Pediatric Cancer

  • Prostate Cancer

  • Sarcoma

The Cancer Portals are available publically, free of charge, and may be used across all disciplines. They are funded by grants procured through the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO.

To access this resource, visit the homepage and select “Cancer Portals” from the blue navigation bar above the rotating mural.

Maximizing the search experience
The Cancer Portals upgrade aims to meet the needs of members who are looking to maximize the search experience. Information from the Portals is arranged by disease type, allowing for users to browse content more effectively and search for customized information in a short amount of time.

“It’s one site that is tailored to physicians’ needs,” said Luke Nordquist, MD, FACP, of the Urology Cancer Center, PC and GU Research Network, LLC, Omaha, Nebraska. “If a physician is treating a certain type of cancer, they can efficiently find the latest information on it in one place. That ultimately improves patient care.”

The Cancer Portals on offer the most recent, as well as archived, published information that is generated from and organized by ASCO’s many resources, including: ASCO Clinical Practice Guidelines; the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) and the Journal of Oncology Practice (JOP); and meeting abstracts, Educational Book articles, ASCO Daily News articles, and Virtual Meeting videos from the Annual Meeting, Breast Cancer Symposium, Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium, and the Genitourinary CancersSymposium.

“The Portals are valuable as a source of one-stop shopping for physicians and scientists. It’s a way to tap into all of the resources ASCO has to offer,” Dr. Azzoli said.

Abstracts from the following PubMed-indexed non-ASCO journals are also populated through theCancer Portals:

  • Journal of the American Medical Association

  • Annals of Internal Medicine

  • British Medical Journal

  • Lancet

  • Nature

  • New England Journal of Medicine

  • Science

From an innovative partnership comes a wealth of shared information
The Cancer Portals are the product of a collaboration between ASCO, JCO, and HighWire Press®—an epublishing division of the Stanford University Libraries, which produces online versions of peer-reviewed journals and scholarly content.

The Society has a longstanding relationship with HighWire. JCO’s website,, and JOP’s website,, already run off of HighWire’s epublishing platform, so the decision to tie in the Cancer Portals was the next logical step. Accordingly, the information generated from ASCO’s family of websites to the Cancer Portals is transferred seamlessly to users in a sleek, easy-to-browse format.

ASCO stands at the forefront of innovation, as it is the first organization to partner with HighWire in a project of this variety. Not only will the Cancer Portals leverage technology by serving as an optimized information filter for oncology professionals, but they will also be a model for organizations looking to provide the same type of information-specific services to corresponding constituents.

“Dive in, explore, and enjoy”

Both physicians agree that a direct approach is best for new or inexperienced users.

“You have to use the Portals to gain skill in navigating them,” said Dr. Azzoli. “My advice for new users is to dive in, explore, and enjoy. This is the place to go when you want an oncology question answered. ASCO is uniquely positioned to provide the go-to resource for oncologists and scientists alike.”

Dr. Nordquist advised, “You just have to see what’s there. The more exposure you have to a site, the more familiar with it you become—the more utility you get and the more benefit it gives you.”

Dr. Azzoli is a medical oncologist specializing in lung cancer in the Department of Medicine, Thoracic Oncology Service, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is a member of the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee and Co-Chair of the Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Committee.

Dr. Nordquist is a urologic medical oncologist and CEO of the Urology Cancer Center, PC and GU Research Network, LLC, Omaha, Nebraska. He is a member of the Non-small Cell Lung Cancer Committee and Government Relations Committee, as well as a member of the 2010-2011 Leadership Development Program graduating class.

—By Elyse Blye, Senior Editorial Assistant

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