More than 39,000 cancer specialists from around the world - and ACS - gathered in Chicago May 31 - June 4 for the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). It is the largest cancer conference in the world, where investigators and drug companies unveil the latest advances in clinical cancer research to researchers, clinicians, and others.
This year's meeting focused on addressing the need to provide every patient with equal access to the highest quality of care.
American Cancer Society investigators and grantees were among those presenting, while other staff attended to learn, participate, and create new working relationships.
Below are some highlights of ACS's activities at ASCO 2019:
Robin Yabroff, PhD, co-chaired and spoke at a two-day educational session, "(Re)defining Value in Cancer Care: Priorities for Patients, Providers and Health Systems," which included panels on financial toxicity, international experiences with health technology assessment, paying for innovative treatments, and innovation and incentives.
Tenbroeck Smith, MA, held a "Meet the Professor" session on using Big Data in clinical settings, titled "Incorporating PROs in Big Data and in Everyday Clinical Use."
Catherine Alfano, PhD, chaired a session presenting the results of the 2018 ACS/ASCO Summit outlining strategies needed to build out stratified cancer follow-up care pathways to better address survivors' needs while dealing with workforce shortages and controlling costs. The presentation built on the results of the 2018 Summit by breaking down the Summit recommendations into actionable next steps clinical systems should take.
Len Lichtenfeld, MD, our interim chief medical officer, was a key source for news media, with Forbes, AP, and STAT News all highlighting his reaction to breaking news.
He also posted two blogs reflecting on data presented at the meeting. In an AP story on the progress of blood tests to detect cancer, reprinted in many outlets including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and NY Post, to name a few, Dr. Len noted that the tests' low rate of false alarms was "remarkable."
"I have little doubt that in the next several years we're going to have what is probably a true early detection test," but the technology still needs to improve and to be tried in large groups of people without known cancers, where the detection rate may not be as good, he said. The biggest question, he said, is "will it make a difference in outcomes," such as whether it helps people live longer, the ultimate measure of a screening test's worth.
Robin Yabroff, PhD, was interviewed by Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post for a story titled ACA Linked To Reduced Racial Disparities, Earlier Diagnosis And Treatment In Cancer Care:
Other experts noted that the racial-disparities study, while good news, highlighted the emergence of a different kind of inequality. "There's increasing concern about greater disparities" between states that chose to expand Medicaid and those that did not, said Robin Yabroff, an epidemiologist at the American Cancer Society. The Supreme Court made expansion of that program optional when it upheld the ACA's constitutionality in 2012.
ACS Grantees also presented:
Lailea Noel, PhD, (ACS Doctoral Training Grant in Oncology Social Work from 2014-2016), discussed examples of successful community-academic partnerships focused on cancer prevention and control.
Gabrielle Rocque, MD, MPSH (Mentored Research Scholar Grant, 2017-2022) did a poster presentation on the Impact of Travel Time on Healthcare Costs and Resource Utilization by Phase of Care for Older Cancer Patients and an education session on Electronic Capture: Changing the Landscape of Quality Measurement.
More news from ASCO 2019 can be found at CURE, WebMD, the ASCO Post, and on Twitter using the hashtag #ASCO19.
Top photo: Robin Yabroff, PhD (left), senior scientific director, Health Services Research, talks to Laure McGinley of The Washington Post.