This is a very special issue of CONQUER: the patient voice. Many of you may not know that on an annual basis, the largest oncology organization, the American Society of Clinical Oncology—better known as ASCO—is holding a conference to discuss the most recent findings in cancer research.
During this 4- to 5-day medical conference, more than 30,000 oncology specialists get together to learn what are the breaking news and cutting-edge research that has been accomplished in the past year and that will likely result in new treatments and new discoveries that directly influence treatment decision-making for patients with cancer.
The conference has primarily medical oncologists in attendance; however, there are also many radiation oncologists, surgeons specializing in cancer surgery, laboratory researchers, and clinical researchers who are focused on developing new cancer treatments. It is very likely that members of your own treatment team often go to this important meeting to learn first-hand new developments in cancer care.
Usually, patients with cancer don’t have the opportunity to learn directly what was discussed at that meeting, and how the information presented may affect their own care, until their oncologist mentions some of the lessons learned that may be relevant to a specific patient. In most cases, doctors may not discuss this information with their patients at all, particularly if there is not a new standard of care that is being implemented as a result of the recent research presented at the annual ASCO conference.
Every single type of cancer, including unique and rare forms within a more general type of cancer, is discussed in some form in this issue, whether these were presentations with PowerPoint slides and active
Q & A, poster presentations, panel discussions, or product theater education programs.
In addition, advocacy organizations are usually present, and often they will have booths in a large convention hall, where ASCO attendees can swing by and learn what each of these organizations is doing on behalf of you—the patient. Furthermore, all the pharmaceutical companies that have drugs in development or drugs already approved for the treatment of some type of cancer are also attending the meeting, providing updates to attendees related to the newest published, or soon to be published, research that reflects the outcomes of clinical trials.
It would be very unusual for a patient with cancer to have access to the research results learned from clinical trials and laboratory research that are announced at this important annual meeting of ASCO.
However, we believe that you should have access to the announcements and clinical trials results that are presented in this setting. Therefore, we have created a special issue of CONQUER magazine, so that you can read about some of the findings that have been presented at the meeting and are likely to influence changes in the treatment options for some types of cancer.
We never expect a patient to be able to translate evidence-based peer-reviewed research articles written by a team of scientists and research doctors! Therefore, we have taken the key points of these studies that were presented in this forum and are providing them to you for your review and general education.
Obviously, you will be most interested in articles that are focused on the type of cancer you have or had, or that a loved one may have. We hope you find these articles of some help. You may also consider taking this special issue of CONQUER magazine with you to your next doctor’s appointment to discuss any specific article that you may wish to learn more about related to the specific cancer you have.
We want to continue to empower you with medical information, so that you can more actively and confidently participate in the decision-making about your cancer care. And if you have participated in a clinical trial a few years ago or just recently, it is likely that the results of the study are now, or soon will be, demonstrating the clinical outcomes during the upcoming ASCO annual conference.
In fact, don’t be surprised if those clinical trial results are in this issue! And I would be remiss if I did not thank you for participating in clinical trials. Without clinical trials, there would be no new treatments for cancer. This is not an exaggeration. People who participated in clinical trials some years ago have enabled the development of the new and improved treatments that you are receiving today. And your participation in clinical trials currently will pay it forward for patients diagnosed in the future with the type of cancer you have.
We hope you find this special issue informative and intriguing, motivating you to want to learn more, and that this issue gives you an inside look at information that normally only your oncology team would be seeing. You are holding in your hands right now the future of cancer care.