Annual Meeting: Scientific Program Highlights, Meeting Personalization, and More

Apr 25, 2017

By Jack Lambert, Staff Writer

The ASCO Annual Meeting is one of the premier events in oncology, with more than 38,000 attendees from around the world gathering at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL, to discuss state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.

The meeting has grown since 1964, when 51 physicians gathered at the Lakeshore Hotel in Chicago, but in many ways the Society’s goals remain the same—to provide the best education and networking opportunities that fit the needs and interests of every oncology professional.

Not every need or interest is the same. A lung cancer specialist will attend different sessions than a physician specializing in breast cancer; first-time attendees may not be used to navigating downtown Chicago, while Annual Meeting veterans know it like the back of their hand.

This year’s theme, “Making a Difference in Cancer Care WITH YOU,” selected and developed by ASCO president Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO, emphasizes the needs of each Annual Meeting attendee and every ASCO member.

“Whether you are a clinician, a researcher, an educator, or all three; a medical, radiation, or surgical oncologist; a clinical or a diagnostic physician, or both, ASCO has a multitude of offerings, programs, and initiatives for you,” Dr. Hayes said. “ASCO is a big tent. Why? Because we fundamentally believe that improving the care of patients is not only the right thing to do, it is an achievable goal if we all row in the same direction.”

For the past 11 months, ASCO honed many aspects of this year’s meeting to make sure they feel personal to you. Whether it is the type of scientific research discussed during sessions, the way you access attendee resources online, or the amenities you experience while walking around McCormick Place, the Annual Meeting is designed with the attendee in mind.

After all, we are in this fight against cancer together, with you.

Scientific Program

The Scientific Program at the ASCO Annual Meeting always provides attendees with the most interesting and cutting-edge research from around the world. The program is developed by the Scientific Program Committee, the group of ASCO volunteers who review and select abstracts for presentation.

Continuous progress in the field of cancer care has led to an exciting program for 2017, one that will include important advances across multiple diseases and will appeal to a broad audience of oncologists and medical professionals.

“We have a spectacular year. We have a wealth of really interesting abstracts that were submitted,” said David C. Smith, MD, Scientific Program Committee chair. “The Plenary Session is going to contain what we think are practice-changing presentations. People will walk away excited about some of the changes coming to clinical practice.”

The science presented at this year’s Annual Meeting will advance the medical community’s ability to integrate immunotherapy and genomic medicines into practice, said Michael A. Thompson, MD, PhD, Cancer Education Committee chair.

“There will be increased understanding of immunotherapy in oncology, as well as continued integration of value discussions,” Dr. Thompson said. “The presentations will look at implementing precision medicine and genetics into all practices, trying to understand when and where we test patients for specific genetic tests and panels.”

Plenary Session

The Plenary Session includes abstract presentations of the top practice-changing science, with commentary from expert discussants, preceded by the Science of Oncology Award and Lecture.

Experience the Plenary Session live in the North Building, Hall B1, on Sunday, June 4, from 1 PM to 4 PM. Attendees can also watch the session via live simulcast in the East Building, Hall D1, and on ASCO Live TVs located throughout McCormick Place.

Topics discussed during this year’s Plenary Session will include research and treatment in prostate cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and a presentation in patient-reported outcomes and cancer care delivery befitting the meeting’s theme.

“We’re going to see a presentation that very much illustrates how incorporating other care providers into the care of patients can have an impact,” Dr. Smith said.

The following abstracts will be presented during the Plenary Session:

  • “Prospective pooled analysis of six phase III trials investigating duration of adjuvant oxaliplatin-based therapy (3 versus 6 months) for patients with stage III colon cancer: The IDEA (International Duration Evaluation of Adjuvant chemotherapy) collaboration” (Abstract LBA1; first author Qian Shi, PhD)
  • “Overall survival results of a randomized trial assessing patient-reported outcomes for symptom monitoring during routine cancer treatment” (Abstract LBA2; first author Ethan M. Basch, MD, FASCO)
  • “LATITUDE: A phase III, double-blind, randomized trial of androgen deprivation therapy with abiraterone acetate plus prednisone or placebos in newly diagnosed high-risk metastatic hormone-naive prostate cancer” (Abstract LBA3; first author Karim Fizazi, MD, PhD)
  • “OlympiAD: Phase III trial of olaparib monotherapy versus chemotherapy for patients with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer and a germline BRCA mutation” (Abstract LBA4; first author Mark E. Robson, MD)

Clinical Science Symposia

Clinical Science Symposia are another highlight of the Scientific Program. These sessions offer a forum for science in oncology by providing foundational education on a specific topic integrated with the presentation and discussion of abstracts. Experts in the field place studies in the appropriate context based on the strength of the evidence and critically discuss the conclusions in terms of their applicability to clinical practice.

“An emerging theme is the next step beyond single-agent immunotherapy,” Dr. Smith said. “We’ll have a special Clinical Science Symposium that focuses almost exclusively on what you can add to checkpoint inhibitors.”

This session is chaired by Dr. Smith and takes place on Sunday, June 4, 9:45 AM to 11:15 AM.

Another special Clinical Science Symposium will focus on the increasing role of genomics in precision medicine and in clinical decision-making, looking at how sequencing has been applied across different diseases. This session is chaired by Ann H. Partridge, MD, FASCO, and takes place on Saturday, June 3, 8 AM to 9:30 AM.

Genomics and precision medicine are highlighted throughout the meeting sessions. For example, in the Developmental Therapeutics track, “we have an abstract that focuses on a very specific genetic abnormality and will likely set a paradigm for the development of new drugs focused solely on a specific set of mutations,” Dr. Smith said. “It’s the first trial to look at mutations across diseases and incorporate those into a clinical trial and show activity.”

Personalize Your Annual Meeting Experience

The groundbreaking scientific data submitted to the ASCO Annual Meeting are awe-inspiring.

More than 5,700 abstracts were submitted for this year’s Annual Meeting. The Scientific Program Committee carefully reviewed each submission and selected approximately 2,150 for presentation in Oral Abstract Sessions, Clinical Science Symposia, and Posters, plus more than 2,890 for online publication.

Deciding which presentations to attend or how to plan your meeting schedule can seem intimidating. Not every session fits your needs, which puts a premium on finding the right information quickly and easily.

Inspired by a project conducted by ASCO’s Leadership Development Program (a group of 16 mid-career members training to become future leaders in the Society and other areas of medicine), ASCO has undertaken a major effort to make this year’s meeting even easier to navigate, both in person and online.

Here are some of the new or enhanced features to look out for in 2017.

iPlanner: Start planning your meeting

The 2017 iPlanner, available as a mobile app and website, is the best way to search or browse sessions and create your customized schedule. Attendees also can claim continuing medical education credits, provide feedback on sessions, and access other meeting materials directly from the iPlanner.

New this year: The iPlanner ( caters to your personal preferences and interests by allowing you to request recommended sessions to attend during the Annual Meeting.

Here’s how it works: Upon logging in to the iPlanner, attendees are offered the opportunity to complete an optional short survey. ASCO will use your survey responses to recommend sessions to attend at the Annual Meeting. From the personalized list of recommendations, you can add sessions you’d like to attend to your schedule.

Can’t attend a session? Not a problem, as you can also add presentations to your Video Library to watch later.

Attendees can find the iPlanner mobile app by searching for “ASCO” on the Apple App Store and Google Play. All Meeting Videos, Meeting Slides, abstracts, and posters are available in Meeting Library, ASCO’s archive of all meeting content (

New this year: Restaurants are listed by category in the iPlanner, so you can plan where you want to eat between sessions.

Attendee Resource Center

The ASCO Educational Book, Annual Meeting Proceedings, Annual Meeting Program, ASCO Daily News, Meeting Videos, and iPlanner will be available online in the Attendee Resource Center ( Log in to the Attendee Resource Center with your username and password to access new, personalized features designed to improve your Annual Meeting experience.

The personalized Attendee Resource Center, available only when logged in, delivers custom content based on the user, such as personal recommendations for ASCO Daily News articles and Meeting Library videos, as well as estimated wait times for security lines at Chicago’s airports.


ASCO has designed a one-page, personalized flyer to show all your transportation options to McCormick Place from every official ASCO hotel.

The easy-to-use guides feature information on the complimentary ASCO shuttle, including the specific shuttle route for the hotel, the pick-up and drop-off points at McCormick Place, and the estimated time of travel. It also has information on the nearest Metra Train and Chicago Transit Authority stops near your hotel, estimated taxi cost, rideshare, and bikeshare information.

Flyers are available in the hotel lobby for attendees.


ASCO realizes the value of your time, which is why we have designed personalized emails about this year’s meeting to make sure you are getting the information you need.

Some attendees already have received emails about the best attractions and exercise opportunities near their hotel. In May you will receive information on personalizing your meeting schedule, as well as information regarding specifically selected networking sessions.

New Opportunities to Network, Connect

Like a chef adding new hints of spice to a familiar recipe, ASCO works each year to bring exciting amenities to attendees.

Unwind on the terrace

The Annual Meeting is a great place to meet and network with some of the most brilliant minds working in the field of cancer care. Take advantage of that opportunity while also enjoying the sunshine and a scenic view of Lake Michigan.

New this year: ASCO invites all attendees to meet for networking at McCormick Place on the D2 Terrace. The terrace includes a landscaped deck with cascading waterfall overlooking Lake Michigan and is perfect for relaxed discussions with colleagues at the end of the day.

Beverages will be available for purchase from 4 PM to 6 PM beginning Friday, June 2, through Monday, June 5.

Presidential Address and Volunteer Corps announcement

ASCO is fortunate to have an active member base eager to volunteer, share their expertise, and give back to the oncology community.

Currently, more than 2,000 volunteers are engaged on ASCO committees, subcommittees, working groups, panels, task forces, editorial boards, and in various training capacities. But more than 1,000 additional members have applied to volunteer this year.

An abundance of volunteers is a good problem to have, and Dr. Hayes, along with ASCO leadership, wanted to find more ways to harness the energy and talent of those who want to serve the Society’s mission. They found the answer in the newly formed ASCO Volunteer Corps, which Dr. Hayes will officially launch during his Presidential Address on Saturday, June 3, at the meeting’s Opening Session.

“My overall vision for the Volunteer Corps,” said Dr. Hayes, “is that it will give everyone who wants to participate a chance to participate.”

To learn more, stop by the Volunteer Corps area in Concierge Services, Grand Concourse Lobby, Level 3, North Building, visit the ASCO Volunteer Portal, or email us.

Reserve a networking space

Need to meet with a group at the Annual Meeting? This year, ASCO’s new “Reserve a Table” program will help attendees schedule time with colleagues. Bonus: power strips are available at each table so you can charge your devices while you meet.

Attendees will have the option to reserve a table in the B1 Lobby, behind Concierge Services. Reservations can be made online (the reservation system will launch this month) or onsite at the Help Desk. Reservations will be available for each table for 45 minutes, starting on the hour. For more information on how to reserve a table, visit

Networking opportunities

One of the main attractions of the Annual Meeting is the chance to interact face to face with colleagues. Here are some of the networking opportunities available this year:

  • The Trainee and Early-Career Oncologists Lounge (Room S501) is available for anyone enrolled in a training program, training program directors, and ASCO members within the first 3 years post-training. Receive advice on career advancement, sign up to participate in mock job interviews, and participate in small-group discussions led by prominent faculty on professional development topics.
  • Mentoring Sessions for Fellows: Interact with established ASCO members and receive invaluable career advice. These sessions are available for ASCO members in training in the Trainee and Early-Career Oncologist Lounge.
  • The Women’s Networking Center (Room S502) is a place for Annual Meeting attendees to gather and discuss pertinent issues that affect women in oncology. Specific educational programming will be offered each day, with sessions on topics such as “Work-Life Balance for Women,” “Salary Disparities and Negotiation for the XX Gender,” and “Dealing with Gender Bias and Harassment in the Workplace,” among many others. 
  • Networking Cafes: Sit, charge your devices, and connect with colleagues at four Networking Cafes throughout McCormick Place. Take a break to discuss the sessions taking place or watch a presentation live on ASCO TV.
  • Poster Discussion Networking: Meet with abstract authors and discussants following each Poster Discussion Session to further explore the research and address questions in a networking area right outside the session room.

Community service opportunity

Take a moment during the Annual Meeting to help patients with cancer and make new connections by volunteering to put together comfort kits, organized by ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundation.

On Monday, June 5, stop by the Hall D1 lobby to help assemble comfort kits, which will include items of use to patients with cancer and patient education materials. Assembly will begin at 7:30 AM and continue until all bags are stuffed. The finished kits will be distributed to local cancer centers around Chicago.

Access Resources, Publications, and Tools Online and in Advance

Making sure you get the right information related to the Annual Meeting is one of ASCO’s key responsibilities. In addition to personalization, attendees will notice other changes to their online materials, designed to improve your experience when accessing the abstracts, slides, and videos

Sign in to access your materials

New this year, attendees will need their ASCO username and password to sign in to any ASCO website, including meeting-related sites such as Meeting Library, the Attendee Resource Center, the ASCO University Bookstore.

Attendee badge IDs cannot be used to access any ASCO materials.

ASCO requires a username and password in order to protect member and attendee information. Attendees that do not remember their username or password will be prompted to go to ASCO’s account retrieval site where they will be sent a secure email with their information.

Want to avoid lines during Annual Meeting? Test out your username and password before arriving in Chicago to make sure you have access to all the digital materials you need.

Meeting Videos and Slides

New this year: Presenter slides from Annual Meeting, as well as video recordings of all presentations made during Education and Scientific Sessions, are now included as part of your registration fee.

Meeting Videos and Slides are available through Meeting Library.

ASCO Educational Book and publications

The ASCO Educational Book is available online through Meeting Library and the Attendee Resource Center. Published annually, the ASCO Educational Book highlights the most compelling research and developments across the multidisciplinary fields of oncology and serves as an enduring scholarly resource long after the meeting concludes.

Visit the Attendee Resource Center to download the ASCO Educational Book, the full Annual Meeting Program, and Annual Meeting Proceedings (including late-breaking abstracts).

ASCO Daily News

The official news publication of the ASCO Annual Meeting features physician-authored commentary on clinical issues, highlights of scientific presentations, meeting logistics, and late-breaking abstracts.

Returning this year, the ASCO Daily News podcast will feature exclusive interviews with oncology thought leaders on the hottest topics in multiple oncology specialties. The ASCO Daily News: Evening Edition will feature articles previewing the top sessions taking place the next day, dining recommendations, and transportation tips—pick it up when you’re leaving McCormick Place to read on the shuttle back to your hotel.

Find a Colleague

Connect with fellow attendees through the Find a Colleague directory. Available through the Attendee Resource Center, you can use this online tool to search for registered attendees and send a direct, private email to connect while onsite.

New this year: Connect with other attendees who are interested in sharing a hotel room via the Find a Colleague directory. Visit the directory to update your profile with the “Interested in Hotel Room Share” tag to denote your interest. Meeting attendees can search for profiles tagged as “Interested in Hotel Room Share” and immediately message those colleagues.

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