ASCO Celebrates 50 Years of Advancing Progress Against Cancer

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Fifty years ago, cancer was viewed as a monolithic and largely untreatable disease, with only a handful of hard-to-tolerate and mostly ineffective therapies available. Stigma and silence left many patients with cancer with little support or information. Determined to change this, a group of seven cancer physicians banded together with a single purpose—to improve the care of people with cancer. And with that, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) was founded.

Over the years, ASCO has held true to this vision as the Society and its members have established and advanced the field of modern clinical oncology. In many ways, the story of ASCO is the story of progress against cancer: As ASCO grew from its original seven members to more than 30,000 today, national funding for cancer research increased from less than $200 million to more than $5 billion annually. The number of drugs available to treat cancer grew from just a handful to more than 170. Most importantly, patients are living longer and better lives.

On this historic year, as ASCO proudly commemorates its 50th anniversary and decades of evolutionary change and growth, it also celebrates the significant progress that has been made against cancer. ASCO’s anniversary website, CancerProgress.Net, chronicles these achievements and more.

Celebrating Progress

ASCO launched CancerProgress.Net nearly 3 years ago to mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. National Cancer Act, which led to major new investments in cancer research and significant increases in cancer survival. The site provides a dynamic and interactive history of progress against cancer and expert perspectives on the future of care. In honor of the Society’s anniversary, the site will feature stories about ASCO’s evolution, an upgraded timeline of advances in cancer, aggregated news and views on ASCO’s anniversary and progress, social media features, and an opportunity to vote on the “Top Five Advances” in the field.

A key feature of the site, the interactive Cancer Progress Timeline developed under the guidance of an editorial board of 21 of the nation’s leading oncologists, has been updated with a fresh look and is now accessible on all mobile devices. Advances in seven types of care and 18 cancers are represented on the timeline, and this extensive record of cancer milestones can be downloaded in a variety of formats (such as PowerPoint slides, Word, or PDF) for use as hand-outs or in presentations.

Looking to the Future

“As we look back over the past 50 years, however, let’s not forget that we still face important challenges—challenges that will require resources and innovation from both science and society,” said Clifford A. Hudis, MD, ASCO President. “We are on the threshold of major scientific breakthroughs in cancer prevention, detection, and treatment, and we must see these through.”

To help accomplish this, the ASCO Board of Directors has created a vision document, “Help ASCO Shape the Future of Oncology: Envisioning Cancer Care in 2013,” to carry the practice of oncology into the next decades, including the transformation of cancer care through health information technology, the realization of precision medicine, and the use of quality measurement and improvement to increase the value of care. For more information on ASCO’s vision and to add your comments on the ideas presented, visit the Reports section of CancerProgress.Net.

Join the Celebration

ASCO invites you to become part of this momentous occasion by touring the Society’s anniversary website CancerProgress.Net, or by following ASCO on ASCO Connection, Twitter, and Facebook. You can also help support the next 50 years of cancer progress by making a donation to the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology at ■

Weigh in on which milestones of the last 50 years were the most important by voting on your “Top 5 Advances” at CancerProgress.Net/vote.

Voting will continue through the 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting and results will be announced shortly thereafter.

© 2014. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.