Welcome to the 2022 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium

Cherie-Ann Nathan, MD, FACS
Louisiana State University-Health

By Cherie-Ann Nathan, MD, FACS, Louisiana State University-Health, Chair of the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Symposium

It was two years ago at our 2020 Multidisciplinary symposium, when I remember vividly Dr. Ehab Hanna describing his nerve-wracking experience trying to get a flight out of Milan back to the U.S., as Italy was going into lockdown because a “virus” had made its way from China to Italy. Little did we know that the Scottsdale meeting would be the last major in-person head and neck conference. We have gone through an unbelievably challenging time over the last two long years, something most people never dreamt we would face in a lifetime — a devastating and disruptive pandemic of unprecedented proportions. However, we have all adapted, weathered the storm and demonstrated resilience to make a difference in the lives of our patients, our departments, our practices and in the world. Our patients suffered, and our specialty and organizations responded magnificently. A lot has changed in terms of telemedicine, working remotely etc., but we remain determined to further advance patient care by embracing new technology, whether it is machine learning, precision medicine or novel therapeutics.

As Albert Einstein said, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." No matter the difficulties we face, there will always be an opportunity to excel, seize the moment, do the right thing. Hence, this in-person meeting, co-sponsored by ASTRO, ASCO, AHNS and SITC, will bring together multidisciplinary teams who will discuss current standards, new research findings and quality of life for our head and neck cancer survivors. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to be ready for any crisis and be ready to serve the vulnerable and remove all disparities in the delivery of health care.

It’s a great thrill to be back at an in-person meeting as the setting also affords a unique opportunity to meet new people across the different disciplines, to network, to forge new friendships and build new collaborations. It gives young and established investigators an opportunity to interact and to inspire each other through face-to-face poster sessions. And, what better setting to be inspired, than in beautiful and sunny Scottsdale, Arizona.

This year’s Planning Committee has designed an exciting forum that is patient-centric and focuses on “Extraordinary Care: Collaborative, Targeted, Diverse, Patient Centered” .  It will address standard of care, cutting edge clinical trials, research in disparities and the use of artificial intelligence, all modalities that will continue to improve survival and quality of life for our patients. Each day will begin with a patient story tied into the thematic topics for the day.

The Keynote speakers will discuss disparities in head and neck cancer and the personalization of HPV associated OPC. There will be an exciting debate on curative intent in the elderly and frail. We will continue the highly popular tumor boards and a networking luncheon for trainees and early career investigators.

“When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters — one represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” John F. Kennedy.

This meeting is all about the opportunity to learn, network and share personal and professional stories thus providing “Extraordinary Care” for our patients and ourselves. Four years ago at the 2018 meeting, I recognized Dr. Eddie Mendez who had just succumbed to pancreatic cancer. We are forever indebted to friends like Dr. Mendez whose science has moved our field forward and who live on through their impact on patient care.

We are truly excited to be back together and share in person our exciting research. See you around the meeting in beautiful, sunny Scottsdale, where we will inspire each other and build strong bonds of friendship through common goals.



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