Oct 21, 2020
What’s in a tagline? “Making a World of Difference in Cancer Care” has for decades been a statement of purpose for ASCO and its members, whose contributions to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and clinical research have indeed been difference-making. Since ASCO’s inception in 1964, many areas of cancer care have seen such significant progress that one must pause to remember that less than 60 years ago, cancer was much less curable, and patients often suffered silently without information or support. That world of difference has entailed advances in cancer research and resource sharing across the global oncology community, resulting in a vastly improved outlook for patients with cancer everywhere. Though they may simply be words, “Making a World of Difference in Cancer Care” has been a unifying mantra for ASCO members, whose shared mission to deliver the highest quality cancer care has had a positive and widespread impact around the globe.
But as ASCO evolves to meet the future—against a backdrop of accelerating scientific progress, a shift to on-demand, digital-first communications, and an unexpected need to compile and provide timely guidance on cancer care delivery during a deadly pandemic—ASCO turned to the oncology community to help contemporize its call to action. Building on the increased strategic focus brought by ASCO CEO Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO, members were invited to express what ASCO represents in their practice and their lives, resulting in new language that is modern, motivating, and, above all, forward-looking—designed to engage the community around a common goal.
The Genesis of Knowledge Conquers Cancer
It should come as no surprise, since the sentiment was overwhelmingly universal, that ASCO’s greatest value to members is as a trusted and timely resource for cancer information. Online surveys of current, past, and prospective members revealed that ASCO is where oncology professionals turn for the latest in clinical cancer research, the perspective of credible experts, and the tools and benchmarks needed to provide patients with the best possible care. Cancer professionals spoke with remarkable unanimity: the rapid exchange of knowledge is critical to advancing progress against cancer, and ASCO is where practitioners and researchers turn to acquire that knowledge.
“Knowledge Conquers Cancer” was widely embraced as ASCO’s new tagline—an inspiring and powerful statement that will begin appearing on the organization’s website, social media channels, print publications, and meeting exhibition booths, among other touchpoints with members. The community liked its spirit of hope, promise, and pithy expression of the power of knowledge in treating and overcoming cancer. The overwhelming response was that “Knowledge Conquers Cancer” connects the value of cancer research to huge leaps in cancer care and cancer cures. It also evokes the Society’s connection with its philanthropic arm, Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, which funds the researchers driving new discoveries in cancer care.
ASCO members will see the new tagline brought to life through member stories and photography featuring members in real-life scenarios that illustrate the crucial role of cancer information.
Dr. Hudis regards the new language to be an expression of ASCO’s purpose for the oncology community. “The intent is for Knowledge Conquers Cancer to serve as the unifying rallying cry for all ASCO members—and to be an enduring mantra for providers and patients alike,” he said.
Three Words, Many Meanings
Remarkably, three words inspired myriad member interpretations, representing the global diversity of the membership itself. For Dr. Hudis, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer acknowledges the extraordinary and continuous efforts our members make to acquire the rapidly evolving knowledge that ASCO offers, so they can provide optimal and excellent patient care.” He added, “In a time of rapidly expanding knowledge, with more treatments than ever that extend life and provide cures, continuous learning is needed to deliver all that our significant advances in cancer care promise.”
According to Raymond U. Osarogiagbon, MD, FACP, a thoracic medical oncologist at the Baptist Cancer Center in Memphis, TN, and a research professor at Vanderbilt University, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer means moving from the dark days of fear and terror upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, to a future of certainty. When it comes to conquering cancer, knowledge is power.”
For oncology nurse Kristin Ferguson, DNP, RN, OCN, who practices at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer means patients will be able to identify their cancer earlier and get treated with minimal side effects and experience fewer interruptions to their daily lives.”
Rami Manochakian, MD, a thoracic medical oncologist who practices at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL, said, “I believe knowledge is the most powerful weapon to fight cancer. There’s no better organization than ASCO to help oncologists keep up with the advanced knowledge needed to provide top patient care. We need that knowledge, and our patients need that knowledge to fight cancer together with hope and strength based on the right scientific rationale.”
For Shikha Jain, MD, a medical oncologist at the University of Illinois, with a subspecialty in gastrointestinal malignancies, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer means we are constantly learning about cancer and how it responds to therapies. As physicians and scientists, we must continuously update our knowledge to give patients the best care and quality of life.”
And for ASCO Board of Directors member Enrique Soto Pérez de Celis, MD, MSc, a geriatric oncologist at the National Institute of Medical Science in Mexico City, “Knowledge Conquers Cancer refers to the cutting-edge knowledge about high-quality cancer care that ASCO provides, as well as the connections ASCO makes between clinicians and researchers to help us share knowledge and grow as practitioners.”
ASCO’s Pandemic Response Exemplifies the Importance of Knowledge in Conquering Cancer
Just as ASCO’s contemporized identity was being developed, COVID-19 began to spread internationally, putting people living with cancer at increased risk. The absence of data on cancer and COVID-19 set ASCO rapidly in motion, collecting questions and providing answers to key clinical care challenges, and establishing the ASCO Survey on COVID-19 in Oncology Registry to collect data on how the novel coronavirus affects cancer care and patient outcomes. According to Dr. Hudis, “The ASCO Registry captures changes in practice in real time and will be instructive for years to come. It’s one more excellent example of our ability and commitment to serve as a timely and trusted resource.”
ASCO also quickly planned and executed its first-ever virtual scientific and education meetings, reaching a vast global audience and revealing the upside of digital delivery of cancer knowledge. In the words of Howard A. “Skip” Burris III, MD, FACP, FASCO, past ASCO president and current chair of the Board, “Although the pandemic prevented us from gathering in Chicago [for the 2020 ASCO Annual Meeting], it did not stop us from fulfilling our mission of sharing knowledge to accelerate progress for people living with cancer.”
“The era of COVID showed, more than ever, how important it is for the oncology community to receive the kinds of support only ASCO can provide,” Dr. Hudis said.
Putting the “Timely” in Timely, Trusted Resource
Even before the pandemic required in-person conferences to shift to a virtual format, ASCO had committed to an ambitious digital-first content strategy, with the goal of delivering digital content to mobile devices on demand and customized to member interests and needs. The initiative will bring members a host of benefits that include:
- Personalized website content based on user interests and current events, so members see the most pertinent content right up front
- Streamlined and simplified website navigation
- Condensing of similar applications—no guessing about where you should go for information or services
- Enhanced contextual search to find what you’re looking for faster
- Increased connectivity between content so members can easily locate related items
- More engaging experiences, making content consumption easier and more intuitive
- Interfaces tailored to take advantage of the strengths of mobile, tablet, and desktop devices, allowing content to be viewed more readily in any format
Additionally, ASCO continues to endeavor to provide digital content in formats that accommodate the full range of learning styles. Since 2019, the innovative ASCO eLearning platform has offered personalized educational content divided into bite-size segments, allowing oncology professionals to learn on the go, however they prefer. For example, the ASCO Self-Evaluation App, powered by ASCO eLearning, pushes a few self-assessment questions to the learner’s mobile device every other day.
A new partnership with software solutions provider Wolters Kluwer Health will also help further personalize the delivery of information from ASCO’s scholarly publications, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and ensure that members around the world receive the information they need, right when they need it. “Our partnership with Wolters Kluwer is designed to help ASCO accelerate its content innovation and enable the delivery of high-value, content-rich experiences to our members and customers in the years ahead,” said Christopher Merlan, ASCO chief digital officer and executive vice president.
Looking to the Future
As the pace of advances in oncology keeps accelerating, practitioners need a real-time resource they can trust, curated to their evolving needs and interests. ASCO is investing to meet these demands. When asked to imagine what the organization looks like 5 years from now, Dr. Hudis predicted, “ASCO will be even more responsive to fast-changing individual member needs. COVID-19 reminds us that surprises await us and that we always have to be ready. In the future, ASCO will be a more nimble, more global, and more digital enterprise. Because our resources will be so highly personalized, members will find it easy to be even more engaged. And through them, the organization will help achieve even greater equity in access to high-quality clinical care.”