My Meeting Experience: A Radiation Oncologist’s Perspective

My Meeting Experience: A Radiation Oncologist’s Perspective

Dr. Aaron Falchook
Aaron Falchook, MD, is a radiation oncologist with the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital. He has attended four ASCO Annual Meetings. In the following interview, he discusses why it’s important for radiation oncologists to attend the Meeting, as well as tips for first-time attendees.

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

Dr. Falchook: I continue to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting to present my research, stay up to date with the latest developments in the field of cancer research, and to network with other researchers and collaborators. 

ASCO Daily News: How has research presented at the Meeting in the past affected how you practice?

Dr. Falchook: Research presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting represents some of the most high-impact and current trial results that drive clinical practice. The 2016 Plenary Session abstracts had a direct impact on radiation oncology practice, with studies demonstrating a benefit for extended endocrine therapy in breast cancer, as well as a benefit of concurrent temozolomide with radiotherapy for glioblastoma in elderly patients.

ASCO Daily News: What short- and/or long-term takeaways did you come away with from last year’s Meeting?

Dr. Falchook: The ASCO press program for the 2016 Meeting highlighted abstracts examining overuse of aggressive care for younger patients, use of a web application to improve outcomes in lung cancer, and significant variability in drug prices throughout the world. These important topics represent emerging themes in cancer research, as the oncology community looks for ways to integrate new technology and maximize value while examining the best way to allocate limited health care resources. 

ASCO Daily News: Why is it important for radiation oncologists to attend this Meeting?

Dr. Falchook: More than half of patients with cancer will receive radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. Radiation continues to play an integral role in the definitive and palliative management of cancer, and it is important that radiation oncologists continue to work closely with medical and surgical oncologists to identify the optimal treatment strategy for different cancers. To best accomplish this, radiation oncologists benefit from staying up to date with the most recent research studies. Radiation oncologists also benefit from participating in interdisciplinary research collaborations to move the field of oncology forward.

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

Dr. Falchook: The iPlanner app is a great way to help plan the Meeting. I review the program and download the app before each Meeting to help prepare. The Plenary Session is a must-attend event, and I usually try to attend the Oral Abstract presentations for areas of interest to me (health services, prostate cancer, and head and neck cancer). I also enjoy the Poster Sessions, as they are a great opportunity to meet people and network with researchers. For any sessions that I cannot attend but have an interest in, I view them online at my convenience through Meeting Videos and Slides on am.asco.org/arc.

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

Dr. Falchook: It is important to plan ahead and identify the sessions you definitely want to attend. At the same time, it is good to have some flexibility to sit in on a session that you may not have heard about when preparing. Also, remember to make time for professional networking. Lastly, be sure to take a little time to enjoy the sights, attractions, and great restaurants in Chicago.  

About Dr. Falchook: Dr. Falchook received a 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Merit Award in Genitourinary Cancers for his project, “Stage at presentation and survival outcomes of patients with Gleason 8 to 10 prostate cancer and low PSA.”