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ASCO12 Conference: Surviving Day 2

“Guest blogger: Christoper Adams” It is my second day at ASCO. I got up early, helped somewhat by the one-hour time difference. I found a friend at the breakfast who directed me to where we catch the buses for the conference center. More importantly she showed me how to find free coffee at the patient advocate lounge.

I was planning to attend an 8 am session on the costs of cancer care. I was a bit worried about finding a seat. Ironic as the room held an estimated 5,000 people (I estimated the number of seats while waiting for the session to start) and there were maybe 300 people in the session. It was a cavernous space and I thought the sound track of seagulls was cute until I realized it wasn’t a soundtrack.

Dr. Tom Smith from Johns Hopkins led the session. The speakers talked about various ways to “bend the cost curve” of cancer care. Dr Smith talked about the importance of palliative care and the unnecessary use of chemotherapy drugs in the last few weeks of life. He also talked about work at US Oncology to reduce the cost of colon cancer care without effecting health outcomes.

I decided to visit the exhibit hall and see if I could track down the Fight Colorectal Cancer team. I found them in the “patient advocate row” as Anjee jokingly referred to the difference between the patient advocate exhibits and the exhibits from the big pharmaceutical companies. Carlea gave some very sage advice regarding ASCO. She showed me how to track down good things to eat and drink. Soon I was ditching the crappy coffee I came in with and standing in line for a Gleevac cappuccino and an awesome crepe from a South Korean biosimilar manufacturer. Those South Korean sure know how to market biological generics!

In the afternoon I went to a talk on development and immune response of various drugs. It reminded me of listening to a conversation in Japanese. A lot of random sounds interspersed with word like “patients”, “survival”, “drugs”. I would tell you more, but I honestly didn’t understand every third word. I have a feeling, though, that these people will have the last laugh as the language of cancer moves from tumor size and tumor location to genetic profiles, SNPs, T-cell expressions, etc.

My day at ASCO finished in the patient advocate lounge with two doctors talking about some of research highlights from the day. It was a great way to end a long and tiring day. – Christopher Adams

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