Feature | ASTRO | August 10, 2023 | By Christine Book

Planners are finalizing programming for the American Society for Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) 65th Annual Meeting, to be held at the San Diego Convention Center, October 1-4, 2023, which will offer more than 2,000 research presentations and 300 scientific abstracts and nearly 200 exhibitors.

Planners and radiation oncology leaders are finalizing programming ahead of the American Society for Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) 65th Annual Meeting, to take place at the San Diego Convention Center, October 1-4, 2023. Follow ASTRO 2023 news on ITN.

Planners and radiation oncology leaders are finalizing programming ahead of the American Society for Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) 65th Annual Meeting, to take place at the San Diego Convention Center, October 1-4, 2023. Registration is open until the August 17 deadline. Image courtesy: ASTRO

August 10, 2023 — Planners and radiation oncology leaders are finalizing programming ahead of the American Society for Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) 65th Annual Meeting, ASTRO 2023, to take place at the San Diego Convention Center, October 1-4, 2023. Registration is open until the August 17 deadline.

Attendees who register to experience the meeting in-person or virtually will be able to gain the latest from more than 2,000 research presentations, top science and education on advances in radiation oncology and cancer care. According to program planners, this year’s meeting includes a premium program with two keynote presenters, more than 300 abstracts as part of Oral Scientific and Quick Pitch sessions and over 1,600 as digital posters covering all the major disease sites as well as Physics, Biology, Palliative Care, Digital Innovations and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Care. 

For those attending in-person, nearly 200 exhibitors will showcase state-of-the-art technologies, services and product demonstrations for cancer care in the ASTRO Exhibit Hall, to be open from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with a Networking Reception scheduled from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 2.

The meeting’s theme, “Pay it Forward: Partnering with Our Patients,” is intended to keep at the meeting’s forefront the central role of human interaction and generosity toward building a better future. A premium feature of the Annual Meeting is the Presidential Symposium, which will spotlight the year’s theme and explore different facets of radiation oncology based on it, from patient perspectives to clinical trials.

Meeting Highlights

Accepted abstracts to be featured during ASTRO 2023 represent all aspects of oncology, radiation oncology and radiation therapy for non-oncologic conditions, across 21 tracks and subcategories. Late-breaking abstracts will be presented, and the scientific program will feature cutting-edge research in all major disease sites, as well as special physics and biology oral abstract sessions. Multiple abstract-related awards will be presenting during the meeting.

Presidential Symposium

A first-of-its-kind Presidential Symposium will be held on Sunday, October 1, from 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. Cultivated and introduced by ASTRO President Jeff Michalski, MD, MBA, FASTRO. Michalski is the Carlos Perez Distinguished Professor and Vice Chair of radiation oncology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO.The Presidential Symposium will spotlight the meeting theme of "Pay It Forward: Partnering with Our Patients," incorporating topics related to clinical trials and include patient perspectives. An overview of that event is summarized below.

In an ASTRO meeting summary, Michalski pointed out that a key role for this meeting is to provide the platform for sharing emergent discoveries from clinical trials. In light of this year’s theme, he emphasized that these trials are “only made possible by patients who very much believe in ‘paying it forward,’” and that findings are shared and pushed further through productive conversations.

The Presidential Symposium will include deep dives into numerous aspects of clinical trials. To start, Session I will focus on Clinical Trial Design and be introduced by Michalski, and James Dignam, PhD, NRG Oncology Statistics and Data Management Center, and University of Chicago Professor, will moderate the session. It will focus on how novel trial designs can be more efficient and effective, exploring the means to reduce the number of enrollees and shorten the time to obtain meaningful results. Statistical design will be explored, along with a look at how NCI is developing an innovative clinical trial unit.

Session II will cover Diversity in Clinical Trials and be moderated by Eleanor Walker, MD, Henry Ford Health System. Speakers include Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, Electra Paskett, PhD, Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, and Desirée A. H. Walker. This session will focus on the necessity of clinical trials to have a diverse enrollment along with a diverse study team, with patient perspectives from those who have participated in radiation clinical trials.

Focused on the meeting’s theme, Session III will explore Patient Perspectives. Bryan Hwang, MD, Sutter Health Mountain View Center, and Barbara Barclay, a patient advocate, will co-moderate this session, planned to provide a unique learning opportunity, as patients and patient advocates share their stories and experiences from clinical trials. Advocates will share how they appreciate being approached about clinical trials or their research into trials. Hwang, a radiologist, was a patient of Quynh-Thu Le, MD, FASTRO, Stanford Cancer Institute, and participated in RTOG 0615 for the treatment of his NPC.

Taking a global view, Session IV will look at International Trial Reports, and will be moderated by Mitchell Machtay, MD, FASTRO, Penn State University Cancer Institute. The session will focus on the future strategy of Cooperative Group Trials with an emphasis on radiation oncology around the world. Winette van der Graaf, MD, PhD, European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Professor Trevor Leong, Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG Cancer Research), May Abdel-Wahab, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and Quynh-Thu Le, MS, FASTRO, NRG Oncology, will share their experiences in this exciting session.


This year’s keynote speakers will continue to highlight the meeting theme Pay it Forward: Partnering with Our Patients. The biographical sketches provided by ASTRO 2023 meeting planners follow:

Arif Kamal, MD, MBA, MHS, FACP, FAAHPM, FASCO, will give the ASTRO 2023 keynote on Monday, October 2, form 9:15-10:15 a.m. Kamal is the Chief Patient Officer at the American Cancer Society (ACS). In this newly created role, Dr. Kamal drives coordinated efforts to accelerate progress against cancer through the organization’s patient-, caregiver- and health care professional-facing activities.  

Dr. Kamal leads the American Cancer Society’s patient support objectives and the development of strategic plans to measurably improve the lives of people with cancer and their families. He oversees the organization’s cancer support, patient navigation, educational programs, patient lodging solutions, transportation services, contact center and digital patient support offerings, as well as all aspects of organizational functions that touch cancer patients across 5,000 communities around the globe. 

Prior to joining the American Cancer Society, Dr. Kamal served for more than 12 years as an oncologist, researcher and innovative leader at Duke University and the Duke Cancer Institute. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Population Health at the Duke University School of Medicine, and recently served as physician quality and outcomes officer at the Duke Cancer Institute. He holds nationally recognized expertise in oncology quality assessment and palliative care. 

In addition to clinical and academic pursuits at Duke Cancer Institute, Dr. Kamal co-founded Prepped Health, a company that develops innovative technology solutions to educate and engage patients facing a serious illness like cancer and their caregivers. He also holds several leadership positions within prestigious national professional organizations, has won numerous awards and is a prolific author.  

“Random Acts of Medicine” will be presented on Tuesday, October 3, from 9:15-10:15 a.m., featuring Anupam Bapu Jena, MD, PhD. Jena is the Joseph P. Newhouse Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. As one of a small group of physician economists in the world, Dr. Jena uses creative natural experiments to help us understand how health care works, the subject of his 2020 TEDMED talk.

Dr. Jena serves as the host of the Freakonomics, M.D. podcast, which explores the hidden side of health care, and the author of the forthcoming book, “Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces that Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape our Health.”

Based on the title Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape our Health by Anupam Bapu Jena and Christopher Worsham, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School, Jena will explore how natural experiments — random events that unknowingly turn us into experimental subjects — can show us how our health is shaped by forces invisible to the untrained eye. This presentation will spark thought-provoking conversation centered around the role that chance plays in our health and how natural experiments can help us understand what really makes medicine work – and how it could work better.

Science Highlights Sessions

Science Highlights sessions spotlight four to six of the most clinically relevant abstracts within each track. Each session will feature a Discussant to present the abstracts. The Discussant will compare and contrast the current data to help attendees digest the latest science, place the study into context and describe how the study can be put into clinical practice, if recommended.

On October 2, the Science Highlights session will focus on the Central Nervous System and Breast; On October 3, Head and Neck Cancers and Genitourinary Cancer; and during the final day’s Science Highlights session of ASTRO 2023, Gastrointestinal Cancer and Lung Cancer/Thoracic Malignancies will be reviewed.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) 

ASTRO is working to expand its initiatives and education about diversity, health equity and inclusion in health care. This track is dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and appears in educational sessions as well as the science program in order to provide a well-rounded Annual Meeting experience while expanding professionals' social awareness on DEI within radiation oncology. Below are the DEI educational sessions and Oral Abstracts available to registrants of the 2023 ASTRO Annual Meeting.

"Master Class: Safety is No Accident - Building Inclusive Cultures" will be held on Saturday, September 30, 2023 | 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Considerations of safety are vitally important and permeate every aspect of radiation oncology practice. With increasing complexity and technological advances, cultivating a culture of safety has been elevated as a major goal. Indeed since 2012 and with each successive edition of the publication "Safety is No Accident," there is recognition that “new unexpected challenges to quality and safety” arise that require the "continual reassessment of usual ways of doing things with focus on activities that add value."

The session Moderator is Iris Gibbs, MD, FACR, FASTRO, Stanford University School of Medicine, and the speaker is Maryam Jernigan-Noesi, PhD, Jernigan and Associates Inc.

"Storytelling: Delivering Equitable and Sustainable Oncologic Care in a Changing Environment – Identifying Opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is scheduled on the program for Monday, October 2, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Despite being on the frontlines of the crisis, health care contributes ~10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant portion attributed to hospital and outpatient care. Given this urgent and growing threat, significant opportunity exists to keep radiation oncologists informed and collectively build climate resiliency within practice and communities. Participants will be asked to Rethink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, and a Q&A session will follow the presentations.

Moderators include: Kekoa Taparra, MD, PhD, Stanford Cancer Institute, and Michael LeCompte, MD, MS, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Speakers for this session are: Gaurab Basu, MD, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, American Cancer Society; Hiram Gay, MD, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis; Katie Lichter, MD, MPH, University of California San Francisco.

"ASTRO/NRG Joint Session - Far Beyond “Thoughts and Prayers: Crafting an Interdisciplinary DEI Action Toolkit to Enhance Basic to Clinical Cancer Research" will be held Monday, October 2, 2023 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

ASTRO has recently pioneered many initiatives towards bolstering health equity, diversity and inclusion (HEDI) in each of its domains. These have the ultimate goals of ensuring that the radiation oncology community is at the forefront of enhancing oncology workplace diversity while helping to ensure equitable patient access to cutting edge health care and cancer research. These efforts in turn present opportunities to enhance radiation- and cancer research, from bench and translational research to clinical trials. Discussions will also include the evolving roles of residents and social media in helping drive this change. This first-of-its-kind panel aims to tackle these issues in a practical, comprehensive and lasting way.

Moderators include: Chika Madu, MD, Northwell Health Cancer Institute, and Gary Kao, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania. Speakers scheduled are: Curtiland Deville Jr., MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Neha Vapiwala, MD, FASTRO, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Karen Winkfield, MD, PhDVanderbilt University Medical Center; and Iris Gibbs, MD, FASTRO, Stanford University School of Medicine.

Other sessions scheduled on the ASTRO 2023 DE&I Program include:

"Storytelling: When Can I Speak? Expert Perspectives on Managing Experiences with Workplace Discrimination"

"Storytelling: Navigating Uncomfortable Situations - Small Changes for Big Impact in Health Care Equity for LGBTQ2SIA+ Populations"

"ASTRO/ADROP Joint Session - Employing Equity in Residency Recruitment and Cultivating a Culture of Inclusion"

"Sexual Health Considerations for Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) and Non-SGM Patients with a Cancer Diagnosis"

Acknowledged as the largest radiation oncology society in the world, Arlington, VA-based ASTRO boasts nearly 10,000 members — physicians, nurses, biologists, physicists, radiation therapists, dosimetrists and other health care professionals — specializing in treating patients with radiation therapies.

More information: www.astro.org

Follow ITN's ASTRO 2023 news coverage here.

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