The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) Annual Cancer Symposium is not only the largest surgical oncology conference in the world, but the 69th meeting, recently held in Boston, is the group’s largest ever, according to SSO Past President Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, the John Rhea Barton Professor and Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
“We had more than 1,900 registrants, and close to 400 were international attendees,” he said. “This is a global meeting that focuses on all the visceral malignancies that surgeons work on.”
The focus extends beyond the strictly surgical, however, into clinical research and even basic science, Dr. Drebin emphasized. “There was a big focus this year on translational research. In my Presidential Address, in fact, I tried to stimulate the next generation of surgeons not only to operate, but to coordinate that with research—because that’s how to advance the profession,” he told The ASCO Post.
Other Giants in Oncology
Jose Baselga, MD, PhD
In addition to Dr. Drebin’s presentation, attendees heard from several other giants of oncology, including Jose Baselga, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, who delivered “Bringing Precision Cancer Medicine Forward.” Dr. Baselga and his team are part of Vice President Biden’s national mission to find a cure for cancer.
Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD
Delivering the James Ewing Lecture was leading cancer researcher and surgeon Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Rosenberg described his pioneering work on the development of effective immunotherapies and gene therapies in his lecture on “T Cells as a Drug for the Treatment of Human Cancer.”
David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD
David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, Professor and Director of the Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Research Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, presented the American Cancer Society/SSO Basic Science Lecture on “Pancreatic Models and Medicine.”
While the surgeons in attendance surely left the conference with an improved skill set, they also gained a greater appreciation of indolent tumors and the potential for overtreatment as well as broader insights into cost and value, shared Dr. Drebin. “We hit all the important issues in cancer,” he added.
The 70th SSO Annual Cancer Symposium will be held March 15–18, 2017, in Seattle, Washington. ■
Surgeons are clearly more comfortable in the operating room than the laboratory, but there is a place for them in translational cancer research as well, according to one surgeon who has led cutting-edge research in pancreatic cancer.
“Translational studies require access to patients, to tissue,...