The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is a professional organization representing 35,000 physicians who specialize in cancer treatment. Every year at its annual meeting ASCO releases hundreds of scientific research papers of interest to physicians, patients, caregivers, and the general public. The theme for ASCO’s 50th annual meeting in 2014 was “Science and Society,” meant to highlight the organization’s goal of uniting the scientific community and society to free the world of cancer.
One of the ways ASCO is working to link science and society is by utilizing technology to analyze detailed information stored in electronic medical records. The organization’s innovative CancerLinQ™ health information technology platform allows specialists to learn from millions of living cancer patients nationwide. CancerLinQ provides real-time feedback to oncology practices, allowing them to compare their care to that of their peers. With aggregated reports of quality and instant guidance, CancerLinQ helps physicians choose the best therapy for individual patients based on clinical guidelines and the experiences of similar patients.
CancerLinQ is one tool in the race to improve cancer treatment but ASCO remains focused on developing and testing new and better drugs to treat breast, prostate and colorectal cancer. Much of the research from the organization’s 50th annual meeting concerned women’s cancers. An example of this work is found in the ASCO patient newsletter Research Round Up, “In an analysis of two ongoing studies, researchers found that exemestane (Aromasin) was more effective at preventing hormone-sensitive breast cancer from returning for premenopausal women than tamoxifen (Nolvadex, Soltamox) when each drug was paired with ovarian function suppression.”
Other research detailed the link between obesity with the higher risk of death in premenopausal women with ER-positive breast cancer. Another finding showed people who are expected to live less than a year can safely stop taking cholesterol-lowering statins without shortening their lives. Research indicates that discontinuing the drugs can actually improve the quality of life by reducing symptoms.
ASCO is about more than cancer drugs and research. The organization is also dedicated to social justice in cancer care and is working to obtain more public and private resources to ensure high-quality treatment for all, whatever their social standing or income level. By combining the latest science with empathy and understanding, ASCO plans to link “Science and Society” in the fight against cancer.