Best of ASCO® Meetings Offer Data, Commentary, and Interaction with the Experts

Get Permission

Best of ASCO offers a summary of the most important abstracts of the year ... these are the abstracts that every oncologist needs to know to be up to date and provide the best care to their patients.

— Kathy D. Miller, MD

Three Best of ASCO meetings were held over the summer in Chicago, Boston, and San Diego. The faculty distilled the most interesting and immediately applicable data from the 2012 ASCO Annual Meeting, provided personal perspectives, and interacted with attendees for an educational experience that was both valuable and practical.

This supplement to The ASCO Post includes coverage of more than 40 abstracts presented at the Best of ASCO® Annual Meeting ‘12. For reports on other abstracts from the 2012 ASCO Annual Meeting and Best of ASCO ‘12, visit

Keeping Oncologists Current

Program Chair Kathy D. Miller, MD, of Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, described the meeting’s appeal. “Best of ASCO offers a summary of the most important abstracts of the year in a concise, smaller format designed to maximize interaction. Regardless of your practice setting or focus, these are the abstracts that every oncologist needs to know to be up to date and provide the best care to their patients,” said Dr. Miller, who also moderated the San Diego meeting.

Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMS, who chaired the San Diego meeting, said the overarching goal is to produce a program that will improve patient care. “You want to get out the most up-to-date information from the Annual Meeting in a way that people on the front lines can translate to how they practice oncology,” said Dr. Berek, of Stanford Cancer Institute in Palo Alto. 

Clinical Pearls Are the Focus

Specialists in the various tumor types positioned the most recent data for use in the clinic and addressed the nuances of incorporating new agents—such as ziv-aflibercept (Zaltrap) for metastatic colorectal cancer.

In prostate cancer, for example, William Oh, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, discussed his take on the pivotal comparison of intermittent vs continuous androgen-deprivation therapy in prostate cancer in the S9346 trial. “Intermittent androgen-deprivation therapy is inferior in metastatic disease and should no longer be propagated,” he concluded.

The program featured data and expert perspectives on the new BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib in melanoma (BREAK-3 trial) and the novel agent T-DM1 in breast cancer (EMILIA trial), along with many other investigations.

In addition, attendees had ample opportunity to query speakers as to their own approaches to challenging scenarios, such as the management of isolated liver metastases in colorectal cancer, and to essentially bring their own challenging cases to the faculty for consultation.

Complementing the Annual Meeting

Selecting 75 key abstracts from more than 10,500 presented at ASCO was a very difficult task for the 24-member program committee, Dr. Miller said. “We looked for abstracts that will change practice today or in the next 2 to 3 years,” she explained. “Exciting developments with a longer timeline to impacting practice are important, but they aren’t the focus of Best of ASCO.”

Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who chaired and moderated the Boston meeting, emphasized that Best of ASCO is complementary to the Annual Meeting. “At ASCO there is the excitement of hearing the raw data, the full presentation, the smaller trials that give preliminary and provocative peeks at the data, as well as the many excellent educational talks and debates. But for working clinicians who want the ‘takeaways’ for their practices, the information they need right away, I think Best of ASCO is great.” He added, “Best of ASCO allows clinicians to ask direct questions of the speakers and present their own clinical cases. That close engagement with the faculty is a real plus.”

Dr. Berek pointed out that Best of ASCO also gives those who also attended the Annual Meeting an opportunity to attend sessions they missed at ASCO. “ASCO is one of the world’s greatest meetings, but it’s massive and it’s difficult to get to everything,” he noted. “Plenty of oncologists go to the Annual Meeting and then come to this meeting to hear the synthesis, and there are probably people who benefit more from this straightforward format. This is a great way to get a summary of the most clinically applicable abstracts—the studies that are most directly relevant to the practice of most oncologists.”

Opportunities for Networking

The smaller Best of ASCO meetings also provide opportunities for networking with colleagues and the faculty, added Dr. Miller. “The schedule allows ample time for questions and informal interactions—something that just isn’t possible with a meeting of more than 25,000 oncology professionals. The more intimate setting is a big plus.”

“These Best of ASCO meetings play a very important part in sustaining the highest quality of oncologic care,” Dr. Berek concluded. “There is great value in this kind of program.” ■

Disclosure: Dr. Berek has received research funding from AstraZeneca and Genentech. Drs. Burstein and Miller reported no potential conflicts of interest.