ASCO 2021 virtual annual meeting features equity in cancer care

people around a table wearing masks, participating in a meeting with others online

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting is a highly anticipated event that brings together world-renowned oncologists to highlight advancements in clinical oncology. The 2021 meeting took place virtually June 4-8 and featured the theme “Equity: Every Patient. Every Day. Everywhere.”

The virtual program included almost 5,000 abstracts from diverse researchers on topics across the continuum, including cancer prevention, screening, treatment, survivorship and access to care. Content was shared through plenary and education sessions, poster presentations and discussions, case-based panels, clinical symposia, award lectures and published abstracts.

This was an exciting event for the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, as Everett Vokes, MD, John E. Ultmann Professor and chair of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of UChicago Medicine, made his first remarks as Sonali Smith, MD, Elwood V. Jensen Professor in Medicine and Chief of Hematology/Oncology, received the Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, the AbbVie Foundation Director of the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and Dean for Oncology for the Biological Sciences Division, led an interinstitutional plenary session discussion on clinical trial results proposed to improve the standard of care for patients with cervical cancer. These efforts aim to block the cancer’s recurrence and spread.

Several cancer center faculty led ASCO Education Sessions, sharing the latest information on important clinical topics. Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD, AbbVie Foundation Professor of Cancer Immunotherapy, discussed the science underlying immunotherapies in melanoma. Mark Ratain, MD, Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Personalized Therapeutics, examined financially guided dosing—the paradigm of optimal versus maximally tolerated doses for cancer therapies. Fay Hlubocky, PhD, MA, clinical health psychologist, chaired a discussion on the oncology workforce of 2021, focusing on the challenges of burnout and moral strain in the era of COVID-19.

ASCO highlights presented by UChicago Medicine faculty include the following sessions. Marina Garassino, MD, professor of medicine, expert in the treatment of thoracic cancers, led the Highlights of the Day session discussion on lung cancer. Alexander Pearson, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, specializing in the treatment of head and neck cancers, presented perspectives on immunotherapy and novel molecular targets at a case-based panel session. Olwen Hahn, MD, associate professor of medicine, and breast cancer clinician, chaired the session on metastatic breast cancer. Sonali Smith, MD, led a discussion on fine-tuning lymphoma treatment to benefit patients.

Authors on Oral Abstract Sessions (excluding those already mentioned) include: Rita Nanda, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the Breast Oncology Program; Peter O’Donnell, MD, associate professor of medicine; Peter Riedell, MD, assistant professor of medicine; Ari Rosenberg, MD, assistant professor of medicine; Gini Fleming, MD, professor of medicine and medical director of Gynecologic Oncology; and Andrzej Jakubowiak, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Myeloma Program.

Catch up on social media coverage of the event on Twitter @ASCO and #ASCO21, and view the