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Participants Laud a Successful Best of ASCO® Lebanon 2010

Feb 10, 2011

February 2011: The Lebanese Society of Medical Oncology (LSMO), in collaboration with ASCO, organized the fifth Best of ASCO meeting in Beirut, Lebanon, on June 25-26, 2010—just three weeks after ASCO’s Annual Meeting in Chicago.

A group of Iraqi doctors
Full view of the Best of ASCO Lebanon 2010 audience
(Left to Right) K. Ibrahim, J. Kattan, K. Pritchard, N. El Saghir
(Left to Right) I. Tabbara, R. Jalloul, N. El Saghir, M. Bachour
Attendees at the 2010 Best of ASCO Lebanon meeting
Attendees during a coffee break
At ASCO’s Annual Meeting, over 500 abstracts were presented in plenary, oral, poster discussion, or poster presentation sessions. From these, 84 abstracts were selected for the Best of ASCO program. Local Best of ASCO planning committees then had the opportunity to select which of the 84 abstracts best fit their own program.

After months of preparations before the Annual Meeting and after attending most presentations at the Annual Meeting, the Best of ASCO Lebanon planning committee prepared a final program, selecting 51 abstracts to allow enough time for presentations and discussion. They then organized the final program and logistics in a very short time, with the goal of bringing the latest in cancer research to the region as soon as possible.

A mix of international faculty from North America and Europe, and a select group of Lebanese and Arab experts, were chosen to deliver original ASCO presentations and discuss them. International faculty included Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, of Winship Cancer; Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Eileen M. O’Reilly, MD, also of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; Ahmad Awada, MD, PhD, of Jules Bordet Institute; Kathleen I. Pritchard, MD, FRACP, of Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre; Tony K. Choueiri, MD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Imad A. Tabbara, MD, FACP, of George Washington University.

More participants attended the meeting than in earlier years; 393 participants came from Lebanon and neighboring Arab countries.

Informative, practice-changing presentations
Participants enjoyed two full days of a meeting that was described as “the best oncology conference days in the Middle East.” Audience members described the Best of ASCO program, presentations, and discussions as informative, useful, and practice-changing, with the potential of having tremendous impact on the daily practice of oncology.

The presentations elicited substantive discussions with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, junior oncologists, residents, and fellows staying in the conference room for long hours to confer on the latest advances and updates in cancer research.

Program topics
The scientific program included information on new chemotherapeutic drugs, new targeted therapies, new promising agents in some types of lung cancer, and a new anti-cancer drug—ipilimumab. This new drug binds to CTLA-4 antigens, stops the down-regulation of T-cells, and promotes immune-related killing of cancer cells as tested in melanoma, among others.

Changing epidemiology of breast cancer
The program also included presentations and discussions of major practice-changing studies supporting the role of sentinel lymph node biopsy in breast cancer. Oncologists in Lebanon and the region emphasized the importance of setting up full training programs for sentinel lymph node biopsy for oncologists-in-training and practicing oncologists because the epidemiology of breast cancer in the region is changing.

Awareness campaigns are producing an impact and causing a decrease in locally advanced breast cancer and a relative increase in the percentage of early breast cancer, particularly in young women. Women are more aware of the latest advances in breast cancer, and they want more breast-conserving surgery and more axilla-conserving surgery, when possible.

Social opportunities
In addition to the scientific meeting, a social program was organized. Tours around cosmopolitan Beirut and Lebanon’s beautiful countryside were organized before and after the conference. The Gala Dinner was a festive event that included widescreen TV screens projecting the World Cup.

by Nagi S. El-Saghir, MD, President, Best of ASCO Lebanon; Joseph Kattan, MD, Chair, Best of ASCO Lebanon 2010; and Khaled Ibrahim, MD, Coordinator, Best of ASCO Lebanon


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