Why ASCO’s Annual Meeting Matters for People With Cancer and How to Attend Virtually

June 1, 2021
Brielle Gregory Collins, ASCO staff

Cancer research is critical to improving care for people with cancer and survivors. To present the results from research studies, cancer researchers attend conferences and share their findings with the broader cancer community, including oncologists, allied health care professionals, patient advocates, survivors, and people with cancer. Through these conferences, the cancer community learns how to better care for, support, and treat people with cancer.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is one of the most important conferences for presenting the latest, most practice-changing research in cancer care. This year, the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting will take place online from June 4 to 8, and thousands of people from around the globe will be logging in to learn about what’s new in cancer research.

“ASCO’s Annual Meeting is important because it convenes cancer researchers from all over the world and provides a forum for the presentation of results of clinical trials that can affect practice, change the direction of future research, or have an impact on policy,” says Cancer.Net’s 2015-2021 Editor in Chief Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO.

The ASCO Annual Meeting is extremely important for the health care professionals who treat and care for people with cancer, but the meeting is equally important for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Conferences like the ASCO Annual Meeting allow patients and survivors to stay up to date on what they can expect from their care and to learn more about treatments that may eventually become available to them.

“Some of the results you will hear presented at the meeting will change the standard of care and expand or change treatment options for people currently living with cancer, and others will influence or transform future research,” says Dr. Schapira. “I'll never forget the 2005 ASCO Annual Meeting, when we heard the results of the clinical trials of adjuvant HER2-directed therapy for breast cancer. The results were so impressive, we didn't need a commentary or explanation. We all knew the standard of care had effectively changed and that lives would be saved because of it.”

It’s this type of research that has real effects on the lives of people with cancer that stands as the cornerstone of ASCO Annual Meeting. But attendees can also expect to see research that illustrates how the cancer community is changing overall. Most recently, this includes learning about changes in patients’ access to care and equity of cancer care. “Studies that illuminate gaps in care or disparities in cancer health outcomes can also lead to changes that improve access and promote health equity,” says Dr. Schapira.

“I'll never forget the 2005 ASCO Annual Meeting, when we heard the results of the clinical trials of adjuvant HER2-directed therapy for breast cancer. The results were so impressive, we didn't need a commentary or explanation. We all knew the standard of care had effectively changed and that lives would be saved because of it.” — 2015-2021 Cancer.Net Editor in Chief, Lidia Schapira, MD, FASCO

Register to attend the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting for free

This year, patients, survivors, and patient advocates may register to attend the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting online for free. To register, patient advocates can send a bio or resume to patientadvocates@asco.org. Patients and survivors may request a unique registration code by sending an email to patientadvocates@asco.org. Learn more about registering to attend the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting.

Follow Cancer.Net’s 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting coverage

Visit the Cancer.Net Blog for easy-to-read recaps in English and Spanish of research that will be presented at the meeting, and subscribe to the Inside Cancer.Net newsletter, which will send out important news highlights ahead of the meeting. You can also follow and engage with Cancer.Net on Facebook and Twitter, where you can find in-depth coverage of the meeting. Finally, follow and use the meeting hashtag, #ASCO21, to see what information is being discussed from the meeting.

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