ASCO Annual Meeting Welcome for Patients

Last Updated: April 11, 2018

Watch and learn how the ASCO Annual Meeting is changing cancer care, and what it means for doctors, patients, advocates, and other in the cancer care community.


2017 ASCO Annual Meeting: Making a Difference in Cancer Care With You

Daniel F. Hayes, MD, FACP, FASCO; ASCO President, 2016-2017: A scientific meeting is really important, I think, for patients who are able to come or  to follow what we do on social media. And it will be pretty well covered on social media and Cancer.Net.

This year, we expect more than 38,000 people to attend, coming from countries all over world. More than a third of our attendees will be from outside of the United States.

And why are they coming? For three reasons, I think.


Dr. Hayes: The first is education, and that really is one of our principal goals for the Annual Meeting. Our education offerings are provided in almost every way you can imagine: small 101s, "meet the professor" sessions with people who are academic experts, presentations in terms of many symposium on specific topics. We want to teach people in ways they want to learn. We also have offerings for laypeople there too, so we don't get too wonk-y in our language.

Scientific Presentations

Dr. Hayes: The second is scientific presentations. Not just a place to educate each other, but a place to present new research. And to present it sooner than you can get it published in a big journal. We're very proud of this, we have a very strict peer review system, so that what gets presented is the best that can possibly be done, that is going on in our field right now.

In fact, most of us go to the meetings to hear about what's hottest and newest, so we can take it home and apply it to our patients before it gets out into publications. Sometimes the presentations are provocative and exploratory. And that's cool too, to know what we might be doing 5 years from now.


Dr. Hayes: And the third is networking. There are so many sub-meetings that aren't being run by ASCO itself, either just 1-on-1 meetings in the hallway in the convention center, or formal, official meetings. Many of the cooperative groups, for example, use ASCO as an opportunity to have updated meetings of their scientists, their clinical researchers, and so on and so forth.

So the networking is really critical, it's the Oscars of oncology, it's the place to see and be seen, and hear what's new. Having an abstract accepted for presentation at ASCO, especially an oral presentation, especially a plenary presentation, is the pinnacle of almost any of our careers, to have that done.

It's a real opportunity to see what's going on in whatever disease you happen to be most interested in. For example, precision medicine is hot, immunotherapy is hot, there will be educational offerings in each of those.

I hope you come away with this that we are making progress against this disease. We've seen mortality of cancer drop by a quarter since the 1980s. That's great. It's not great enough, we have too many people dying this year of cancer, either that could be prevented if we just applied what we already know, or that we need to know more, so that we can provide better and more effective therapy with fewer side effects.

These are the things I think patients can come away with from the meeting: a sense of excitement, a sense of where we're going, a sense of what's new, and a sense of what to watch out for in the future.

2017 ASCO Annual Meeting: Making a Difference in Cancer Care With You

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