Participating in and attending international meetings has become a very important aspect of post-graduate continuing medical education for practicing physicians and researchers worldwide. Although advances in computer technology have allowed us to easily disseminate information via online publications and live instantaneous transmission of presentations and virtual meetings, attendance of scientific meetings allows firsthand, live, immediate access to and discussion of novel research results, as well as networking with other colleagues, meeting old friends, and making new ones.
In the field of oncology, advances are occurring at such fast rates that these meetings have become vital for oncologists everywhere. However, not everybody can go to major meetings, nor can organizers and venues accommodate all the world’s specialists. That is a reason why, for example, Best of ASCO® Meetings, started in 2005, have become very successful and are now being held in over 23 countries on 5 continents. ASCO works with regional and national oncology associations, selects the most highly rated and practice-changing abstracts, provides presentation PowerPoint slides, and helps local organizers plan very informative meetings. These local Best of ASCO Meetings are worth attending even if you already went to the ASCO Annual Meeting. Other major medical societies are now doing similar initiatives.
However, even the regional Best of ASCO Meetings, Best of ASH Meetings, Best of San Antonio Meetings, and others—meeting that are usually comprehensive and are held over 1 or 2 days in various cities—may not be attended by all specialists in the area. That is why there is always room for individuals who attend such meetings to report new findings to their colleagues practicing at their institutions. We like to call such conferences nowadays “ASCO Highlights,” “ASH Highlights,” etc., because names such as “Best of ASCO,” for instance, have become a trademark and imply licensing by ASCO or other corresponding societies.
It is with the idea of fairness to our colleagues (who stay behind while we travel and attend major oncology meetings) and the goal of rapid dissemination of new oncology knowledge, discussing new findings, improving patient care, that we held four weekly 1-hour lectures, “Highlights of San Antonio Breast Cancer Conference” and “Highlights of ASH,” at my institution, the American University of Beirut Medical Center. Attendings who prepared the lectures found it a nice occasion to refresh what they heard and learned in San Antonio (SABCS) and in Atlanta (ASH), while other attendings and fellows loved those lectures and felt as if they were there!
Many of us used to take notes and use them to prepare lectures. However, preparing lectures nowadays has become easier because ASCO, ASH, ESMO, SABCS, and other meetings now offer immediate online access to PDF slides of the majority of their meeting presentations. Physicians who attend major oncology meetings would do a great service by transmitting new cancer research advances to their colleagues and their patients. We ask and hope that this tradition becomes more widely practiced!