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A Personal Take on ASCO, From the Other Side of the Computer

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The American Society Clinical Oncology annual meeting — ASCO 2022 — was conducted in person in Chicago, after a three years’ hiatus due to the pandemic. There was also, as most meetings now do, a virtual participation possible but this year, over 30,000 participants were physically in Chicago with only 11,000 virtually.

The program, topics, speakers, and discussants were all ready to be there in person and were outstanding. A meeting that we all have been missing for a long time. And to have a virtual option and the choice to listen to the presentations later is a big bonus.

What was so exciting for our patients? Well, a lot of practice changing presentations were on the agenda and well received. This is true for breast cancer, lung cancer and even pancreatic cancer; other diseases also were represented as usual and outstanding data were introduced to all audience.

One of the many intriguing topics was the joint ASCO-AACR session on “The promise of DNA damage response and repair in cancer.” A very hot topic of course, after so many years of research and clinical studies (I remember participating in one of the early PARP-I studies in 1999 - that was negative) patients now benefit from these and an array of new compounds. Today, at least, ovarian pancreatic and prostate cancer can be successfully treated with PARPi as long as an appropriate mutation is present. And more indications and compounds that target MMRd and similar conditions — both germline and somatic mutations — are soon to come for the benefit of our patients. 

On a personal level, I really embraced the idea of Equitable Cancer Care. I published in my academic life about a dozen or so manuscripts from 2001 onward on this topic: diversity and inequitable differences in side effects in different populations, distinct differences in the immune system in breast cancer, participation (or non-participation) in clinical trials by minorities in Miami, and differences in behaviors and outcomes. Of course, we included many members of the research teams, locally, nationally, and internationally.

So overall, a big success and positive experience of this year's ASCO. We all hope it will stay this way or getting even better and all are looking forward to the next big and small meetings conducted in person or hybrid: I also think, the hybrid format is here to stay, there always will be people, colleagues, and participants who are less keen to travel and enjoy the lectures from the convenience of their office or home. Actually, regarding diversity and inclusion, for those who (for whatever reason) are vulnerable, the virtual option remains very important and does not exclude them from the innovation that is being shared in meetings like ASCO.

Dr. Gluck has no conflicts of interest to report.

Image by Irina_Strelnikova / GettyImages

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