Dr. Jule Franve Vásquez Chávez
ASCO Daily News: Why have you continued to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: The ASCO Annual Meeting is the most important cancer congress in the world. The 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting was particularly special to me because I submitted an abstract that was accepted for poster presentation. This presentation provided me with an opportunity to interact with international oncologists in the area of my interest. The ASCO Annual Meeting is an excellent showcase to show your research work to other oncologists.
ASCO Daily News: What is the current state of oncology care in Peru?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: Peru’s population is about 31.2 million. Currently, 204 medical oncologists are registered with the Peruvian College of Physicians, and the majority of them work in Lima, the capital city. Patients mainly present with advanced cancers. Gastric, cervical, and breast cancers are the most frequently diagnosed. Fortunately, our government considers cancer a public health problem. Because of this policy, it established the “el Plan Esperanza” (the Hope Plan), which covers all low-income patients for cancer prevention, treatment, and palliative care, even with autologous and allogenic transplantation.
ASCO Daily News: How has research presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting in the past affected how you practice?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: I treat patients with hematologic malignancies, and for me it is very helpful to learn about myeloma and lymphomas. When I attended the Annual Meeting in 2015, I was surprised by the large number of research papers presented during the Poster Sessions, and that motivated me to submit my abstract the following year.
The poster I presented during the 2016 Annual Meeting was on using combination cyclophosphamide, thalidomide, and dexamethasone as a first-line treatment in patients with multiple myeloma. In fact, this treatment is the standard of care in all Peruvian public hospitals. However, we are modifying our first-line treatment strategy for transplant candidates to combination bortezomib, thalidomide, and dexamethasone. This change will also make our patients eligible for clinical trials in the relapsed/refractory setting, providing an opportunity for our patients to receive treatments that otherwise would not be available.
ASCO Daily News: What short- and/or long-term takeaways did you leave the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting with?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: The 2016 Annual Meeting presented important results for changing our practice in the future as we begin to use more immunotherapy for hematologic malignancies. For example, the future is promising in the multiple myeloma setting with the use of daratumumab, ixazomib, and pembrolizumab to treat patients. And of course, the use of CAR T-cell therapy in refractory/relapsed cancers such as B-cell lymphoma, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, and multiple myeloma is exciting as well. Another key message from the 2016 Meeting was the importance of considering the cost versus benefit of cancer treatment.
ASCO Daily News: How does an ASCO membership benefit you as a non–U.S.-based physician?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: There are many benefits for me as a full member. I have the opportunity to sponsor my own abstracts and my colleagues’ abstracts, I have access to Journal of Clinical Oncology articles, and I’ve been provided with a Meeting registration discount. Furthermore, as an early-career medical oncologist, I’m eligible to apply for different scholarships.
ASCO Daily News: What advice do you have for first-time attendees to get the most out of their Meeting experience?
Dr. Vásquez Chávez: I strongly recommend using the iPlanner website and app to help plan your meeting and organize all activities. There are many simultaneous sessions, so you have to choose your sessions of interest.•
About Dr. Vásquez Chávez: Dr. Vásquez Chávez is a medical oncologist specializing in hematologic cancers. He is a previous recipient of the International Development and Education Award, which connects early-career oncologists in low- and middle-income countries with leading ASCO members in the United States and Canada who serve as scientific mentors.