My Meeting Experience: A Pathologist’s Perspective

My Meeting Experience: A Pathologist’s Perspective

Dr. Sunil S. Badve, credit John R Gentry Jr
Sunil S. Badve, MBBS, FRCPath, is a pathologist with Indiana University. He is an experienced ASCO Annual Meeting attendee, having regularly attended the Meeting for almost 10 years. In the following interview, Dr. Badve discusses why he continues to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting and offers advice for first-time attendees. 

ASCO Daily News: Why have you continued to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting?

Dr. Badve: The main reason for attending the Meeting is the presentation of new data, particularly from clinical trials, because one gets to see the data firsthand. It often takes months or years to see the data in print.

However, this does not stop clinicians from acting on the data immediately after the Meeting. The histopathological aspects of the data have been misinterpreted by the person who is relaying the information to the pathology group. Increasingly, data have become more nuanced, and their interpretation is complex. The perspectives presented by invited experts immediately following the presentation are extremely valuable to get an unbiased viewpoint and a clinician’s perspective.

The application of the data to routine clinical practice requires a multidisciplinary approach, and seeing the raw data helps the pathologist to actively participate in the development of local practice guidelines.

Last but not the least, the Meeting provides networking opportunities to meet with colleagues from other institutions, as well as thought leaders in the field. The ability to meet them and ask pertinent questions is a major resource.

ASCO Daily News: What takeaways did you come away with from the 2016 Meeting?

Dr. Badve: One of the major themes of the 2016 Annual Meeting was immunotherapy. It was impossible to miss the success of this form of therapy in multiple cancers. The importance of new testing methods and the changing landscape of cancer diagnosis and disease monitoring was brought home by the large studies involving liquid biopsies, which will have long-term ramifications. In breast cancer, the major news was regarding prolonged endocrine therapy. More is clearly better, albeit associated with increased risk of adverse effects, mainly involving bone. Another takeaway was the importance of molecular testing in new targeted therapies and the critical role played by pathology in this field.

ASCO Daily News: How do you plan out your time during the Annual Meeting? What sessions do you make sure to see?

Dr. Badve: I attend as many breast cancer sessions as possible as that is my major of area of clinical and research interest. Among the general sessions (typically based on single pathways), I prefer to attend Poster Sessions over mini-symposia partly because I can easily move from one topic to the next. Poster Sessions have a lot to offer, and I believe they are underrated in terms of the information that can be gleaned or imbibed. Typically, I also attend the named award lectures and the joint American Association for Cancer Research–ASCO session.

ASCO Daily News: Why is it important for pathologists to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting?

Dr. Badve: Pathologists are often not involved with the rapidly moving drug development field and the problems associated with that development. The push in the field of therapeutics has been to develop companion diagnostics. However, as was apparent during ASCO16, developing companion diagnostics is also associated with problems. For example, there are several reagents available for PD-L1/PD-1 pathway testing. They all seem to have different staining characteristics and are associated with different scoring systems. It is important for pathologists to be aware and be involved with the eligibility testing for novel agents. This awareness not only helps clinical practice, but it also helps formulate questions for personal research, thereby keeping attendees at the leading edge of the field.

ASCO Daily News: What advice do you have for first-time attendees to get the most out of their Meeting experience?

Dr. Badve: The challenge with large meetings such as ASCO’s is the number of high-quality, simultaneous sessions. The iPlanner website and app are extremely important tools in planning your way around the Meeting. I strongly recommend that first-time attendees spend time reviewing the agenda and formulating a plan. Make sure to have a map of the convention center handy while planning; it can easily take 10 to 15 minutes to travel between conference rooms.

About Dr. Badve: Dr. Badve is the Joshua Edwards Professor of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine with Indiana University. He is a pathology resident with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, an oncopathology fellow with Yale University Hospital, and a diplomate of the American Board of Pathology in Anatomic and Clinical Pathology. His clinical interests include surgical pathology, breast pathology, systems biology, and personalized medicine.