Greetings from Chicago – I have just wrapped up four days of meetings, presentations and exciting discussions at the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Each day was non-stop – early morning until late evening – filled with over 2700 presentations to OVER 30,000 participants, representing over 100 countries where ASCO members provide cancer care and research. To see more about the meeting, visit www.asco.org.
The theme of the 2013 meeting was Building Bridges to Conquer Cancer. Over the twenty years that I’ve been a member of ASCO I have rarely seen an annual meeting with such hope for the future. We found much promise across numerous issues that included new, targeted therapies, improved diagnostics, and supportive care. The heightened pace of scientific achievement is made possible by new technology, team science, and big data and digital information. Broader issues of increasing patient advocacy, supporting the next generation of cancer researchers, and global equity in care were also important components of this year’s meeting.
Many exciting presentations advanced our efforts with women’s cancers. Much of the research that was presented focused on the new era of precision medicine–strategically choosing targeted treatment based on a tumor’s molecular characteristics. There were also presentations from pivotal clinical trials with data that shows improved survival and promise in new maintenance therapies that increase the time in remission.
Hopefully, on your television or your laptop you saw some of the exciting news that came out of this year’s annual meeting. As a member of the Board of Directors for ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation I had a front row seat and met with many of the scientists and award winners at the meeting. In addition, through the Conquer Cancer Foundation, ASCO supports work around the globe providing mentorship and training to cancer physicians who are translating advances that are moving us towards a world free from the fear of cancer.
It is my belief that in 10 years we will not be practicing cancer care the same way that we do today. Cancer care will improve on almost every front, bringing hope to millions. Thanks to your ongoing support, the physicians and researchers at Cedars-Sinai’s Women’s Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute continue to be at the forefront of much of this new work. It is my hope that you share some of my excitement as we enter this new era of promise in cancer care and research.
Beth Y. Karlan, MD