Cancer Experts Gather at Chicago ASCO

With more than 30,000 members worldwide, ASCO (the American Society for Clinical Oncology) is the world’s largest organization of cancer specialists. Today in Chicago, hundreds are gathering for the annual ASCO meeting where scientific researchers present their latest findings, and clinical specialists (oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, nurses) begin to hear how the new science can be applied to their patients.

Fight Colorectal Cancer is represented at ASCO by staff, Board members, and four of its Medical Advisory Board who will be presenting their own research and papers. (Watch here for reports.)

“The average oncologist really needs to understand more molecular biology now than ever before,” noted Scientific Program Committee Chairman Dr. Douglas Yee in today’s ASCO Daily News  because increasingly, cancers will be diagnosed and treated according to how molecules and cancerous cells act abnormally, rather than whether the cancer arises in colon or liver or breast.

The view from inside cells: cancer panomics

Credit: XnY hateZ/Fotolia

Credit: XnY hateZ/Fotolia

Over the next 20 years, one of the major changes in how we understand cancer itself will come out of “cancer panomics”– how a complex combination of genes, proteins, molecular pathways, and unique patient characteristics (diet, exercise, intestinal microbes, inflammation) causes cancer in each individual. The new focus on “personalized medicine” will demand a whole new way of organizing clinical trials—hopefully using smaller numbers of better-suited patients to decrease cost and speed testing of new treatment.

Medical care in doctors’ offices will change, too. “Oncologists will have to understand these pathways and the drugs that target them in order to select appropriate therapies,” said Michael P. Link, MD, immediate past president of ASCO in the May 31 ASCO Daily News.  Everything from cancer prevention advice, to diagnostic tests, to treatments will keep changing quickly, as scientists better understand what happens inside cancer cells.

The bigger perspective of cancer in the nation, and world 9d150275-80b4-4fa7-a39e-abefc1043429-cancer-facts-4

The ASCO meeting doesn’t just focus on the very latest understanding inside cancer cells, but also how to give better cancer care right now, to people everywhere. “I currently work with underserved communities in Washington, DC,” said ASCO President Dr. Sandra Swain, “and every day I see gaps in connecting proven treatments and preventive measures with underserved populations.” These gaps lead to more suffering and deaths in different parts of the U.S., she noted, “not just in low- and middle-income countries.”

But in fact, a majority of new cancer cases—and two-thirds of all deaths– actually occur in developing countries. Cancer kills more people in developing countries than HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

As the world of cancer researchers and caregivers meet over the next few days in Chicago, stay tuned right here for the latest medical news.

Source: May 31 ASCO Daily News

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