ASCO and the Oncology Community Convene at World Cancer Congress to Discuss Challenges to and Progress Toward Bringing High-Quality Cancer Care to All Patients

October 17, 2022

In conjunction with the World Cancer Congress, ASCO is publishing a special series of its online publication JCO Global Oncology focused on innovative, evidence-based models for cancer professionals and patients to improve access to quality cancer care particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). During Congress sessions, leaders from ASCO will explore integrating palliative care into standard oncology practice; increasing cancer research and clinical trials in Africa; ensuring a supply of essential medicine for all patients regardless of resource setting; and using lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to boost cancer control.

The World Cancer Congress, being held October 18–20 in Geneva, also will provide a forum for the initial meeting of the Leadership Programme for Women in Oncology, a joint endeavor of ASCO and the City Cancer Challenge Foundation (C/Can).

“Global collaboration is essential to the work all of us in the oncology community are doing to improve the quality of and access to cancer care,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Julie R. Gralow, MD, FACP, FASCO. “Forums such as the World Cancer Congress provide an opportunity for us to gather, discuss challenges and successes in the various initiatives we’re advancing, and share ideas so we may all together help provide patients with the highest quality cancer care.”

Special Series of JCO Global Oncology

The JCO Global Oncology special series, published today online, includes eight articles devoted to collaborative efforts to improve patient care, particularly those in LMICs, through quality improvement, integration of palliative care, multidisciplinary approaches, and more. The articles in the series are:

“Capacity building in health literacy, research processes, as well as policy-related topics has significant potential for the improvement of patient engagement,” write Melanie Samson, MPH, MPH, et al. in their article for the series. “It is critical to further invest in nationally led and evidence-based capacity-building activities to ensure that cancer patient organizations are recognized as a critical voice in national cancer policies in LMICs as part of the right to health but also as a prerequisite to quality cancer policies.”

JCO Global Oncology Editor in Chief Gilberto de Lima Lopes Jr., MD, MBA, FAMS, will be at the ASCO booth (Stand No. 7) from 12:40-1:30 p.m. (CEST) on October 19 to answer questions about the journal and this special series.

ASCO is committed to increasing the evidence-based knowledge of the cancer community, and its journals provide one avenue for knowledge building and dissemination. Another method is meaningful engagement with members of the oncology community through scientific and educational presentations and dialogue with stakeholders. ASCO will be engaged in both at the World Cancer Congress, and its leaders and programs will be featured in the following sessions:

  • Palliative care as a global priority for oncology care: Palliative care as an integral part of clinical cancer care has been a longstanding priority for ASCO. Dr. Gralow will speak on this topic at the congress’s opening plenary highlight session in a presentation, “Integration of Palliative Care Into Standard Oncology Care: Is it Working?” The session will examine how much progress has been made following the field’s 50 years of advancement and ASCO’s 2012 call for palliative care to be made standard for all patients with cancer, as well as the barriers to implementation that remain. Additionally, ASCO International Affairs Director, International Education, Vanessa Eaton will speak about “Palliative Care Training during COVID: the ASCO Experience” during a digital-only session.

Plenary highlight session time: October 19, 9:40–11:10 a.m. (CEST)

  • Expanding cancer research and clinical trials in Africa: To support the expansion of cancer research, including clinical trials, in Africa, in July ASCO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) to do just this. To help raise awareness about the need to escalate cancer research in Africa, Dr. Gralow will present an abstract, “Increasing Diversity, Market Access, and Capacity in Oncology Registration Trials – Is Africa the Answer?” during an abstract rapid-fire session.

Session information: “RF16 Abstracts Rapid Fire Session: Cancer control planning, multi-sectorial collaboration and costs of cancer,” October 18, 4:40–5 p.m. (CEST)

  • Working with stakeholders to improve access to essential medicines: ASCO is a member of the Access to Oncology Medicines (ATOM) Coalition, which aims to increase access and availability of cancer medicines on the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML) in LMICs. The coalition, launched by UICC in May and already including a large number of public and private sector partners, will build on best practices in medicine access programs, engage with drug manufacturers to make essential medicines available, and work with health system stakeholders to ensure the medical and diagnostic capacity to use the medicines safely and effectively.

Today, members of the coalition and other stakeholders met for a second Access to Essential Medicines Symposium as a follow-up to the initial meeting held during the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting in June. At this October meeting, participants will focus on access strategies related to health systems strengthening, procurement solutions, and models for addressing inadequate supply and tendering.

The work of the coalition as well as other innovators in cancer medicine access, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Pan American Health Organization, will be shared during a session chaired by ASCO Past President Dr. Everett E. Vokes, MD, FASCO, and include Dr. Gralow, who will speak about the “Availability and Accessibility of Essential Cancer Drugs.”

Session information: Improving access to essential cancer medicines,” October 19, 3:10–4:10 p.m. (CEST)

  • Working with WHO on cancer control: ASCO has been engaged in the topic of oncology care in the post-pandemic environment, particularly health equity and access. Dr. Gralow and two other speakers will discuss the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery on cancer control around the world, including what policy actions may foster more equitable and resilient cancer services. ASCO is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) on other aspects of cancer control and care, having entered into a collaboration announced in June to measure and improve the quality of cancer care internationally. The goal is to achieve health-related targets of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and WHO Global Action Plan on Non-Communicable Diseases and help cancer professionals provide the best possible care to their patients.

Session information: “UICC/WHO Policy dialogue: Building stronger cancer systems for a post COVID-19 world,” October 20, 11:10 a.m.–12:10 p.m. (CEST)

Women’s Leadership Programme Launches

The 10 participants in the inaugural Leadership Programme for Women in Oncology—who were announced in September—will meet with one another and their mentors in person during several sessions and small-group meetings. Participants will begin working on their individual projects and, over the following nine months, will attend virtual meetings focusing on strengthening key executive skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, leadership, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. The program will conclude next June at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting.

The program seeks to address the specific challenges and barriers faced by women leaders in oncology and strengthen the leadership mindsets and skills of women working to improve access to equitable, quality cancer care in C/Can cities.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Gralow, please contact

Additional Resources:

  • Watch our free, four-part seriesBreast Cancer: Closing the Divide Between Survivorship and Palliative Care,” which focuses on emphasizes the importance of quality of life and equitable access to palliative care; pain and symptom relief; and holistic and community-based support for patients and their families, with a focus on advanced breast cancer and long-term survival.
  • What is Palliative Care?” from our patient information website, Cancer.Net