By Jennifer Jang, ASTRO Communications
ASTRO is excited for the 2023 ASTRO Annual Meeting to be held this October 1-4 in beautiful San Diego. The meeting’s theme, “Pay it Forward: Partnering with Our Patients,” is intended to keep at the meeting’s forefront the central role of human interaction and generosity toward building a better future. A premium feature of the Annual Meeting is the Presidential Symposium, which will spotlight the year’s theme and explore different facets of radiation oncology based on it, from patient perspectives to clinical trials.
ASTRO President Jeff Michalski, MD, MBA, FASTRO, pointed out that a key role for this meeting is to provide the platform for sharing emergent discoveries from clinical trials. In light of this year’s theme, he emphasized that these trials are “only made possible by patients who very much believe in ‘paying it forward,’” and that findings are shared and pushed further through productive conversations.
The Presidential Symposium will include multiple deep dives into numerous aspects of clinical trials. To start, Session I will focus on Clinical Trial Design and be introduced by Dr. Michalski, and James Dignam, PhD, NRG Oncology Statistics and Data Management Center, will moderate the session. It will focus on how novel trial designs can be more efficient and effective, exploring the means to reduce the number of enrollees and shorten the time to obtain meaningful results. Statistical design will be explored, along with a look at how NCI is developing an innovative clinical trial unit.
Session II will cover Diversity in Clinical Trials and be moderated by Eleanor Walker, MD, Henry Ford Health System. Speakers include Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, Electra Paskett, PhD, Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, and Desirée A. H. Walker. This session will focus on the necessity of clinical trials to have a diverse enrollment along with a diverse study team, with patient perspectives from those who have participated in radiation clinical trials.
Honing in on the meeting’s theme, Session III will explore Patient Perspectives, and Bryan Hwang, MD, Mountain View Center, and Barbara Barclay, a patient advocate, will co-moderate. This session will provide a unique learning opportunity, as patients and patient advocates share their stories and experiences from clinical trials. Advocates will share how they appreciate being approached about clinical trials or their research into trials. Dr. Hwang, a radiologist, was a patient of Quynh-Thu Le, MD, FASTRO, Stanford Cancer Institute, and participated in RTOG 0615 for the treatment of his NPC.
Then, zooming out, Session IV will look at International Trial Reports, and will be moderated by Mitchell Machtay, MD, FASTRO, Penn State University. The session will focus on the future strategy of Cooperative Group Trials with an emphasis on radiation oncology around the world. Winette van der Graaf, MD, PhD, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Professor Trevor Leong, Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG Cancer Research), May Abdel-Wahab, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Quynh-Thu Le, MS, FASTRO, NRG Oncology, will share their experiences in this exciting session.
Upon considering each of these sessions, Dr. Michalski noted that the Annual Meeting serves as a key learning opportunity, as attendees have a chance to understand how the field is evolving upon hearing the latest reports on clinical trial investigations and to participate in that evolution.
Special thanks to each of our presenters in the Presidential Symposium. Join us for the Presidential Symposium sessions and all that the Annual Meeting has to offer — register by June 29 for the Early-bird rate!
ASTRO leadership has been listening carefully to the questions and varied opinions shared about meeting locations, including our upcoming Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, set to take place in just three months. Despite our collective desire to share the latest research and clinical trial results, we've heard from some that they are uncomfortable visiting Texas, as its laws make them feel unsafe or unwelcome.
Attempting to move the Annual Meeting to a new city at this late date would be a herculean challenge with immense and extraordinary ramifications, including significant financial implications and detriment in the quality of presentations, education and engagement. ASTRO leadership made the difficult decision to hold the meeting as planned. For those of you who choose to not travel to Texas, we respect your decision. We expanded our virtual offering to give you complete access to the entire meeting, which will be fully livestreamed for the first time this year. Additionally, all registrants, both in-person and virtual, have full access to the onDemand recordings as part of their registrations.
We are pleased to announce that our 2023 meeting will be in San Diego, California. For future meeting locations, we understand your concerns, and these considerations are at the forefront of our decision-making process.
The health care landscape in this post-Roe era is ever evolving, with varying implications on a per-state basis, and in some cases possibly within states. ASTRO is monitoring the situation attentively, and as members identify needed resources, we will look to meet those needs. We also encourage continued dialogue on these important issues; please continue to access ROhub to respectfully share your perspective.
As a community, we responded well to the unexpected challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As medical professionals, we hope the ASTRO community will again rise to the occasion and continue to prioritize the health care of its patients and members.