October 2011


By Michael J. Katin, MD

This month, the 53rd annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology will be held in Miami Beach, Florida. For those who are able to spend extra time in Florida, note that the Miami Beach Convention Center is hosting the Miami International Wine Fair and the Jump Dance Convention prior to ASTRO. The Higher Education Expo follows our meeting, allowing an opportunity for our children to have exposure to hundreds of college programs to help them decide on their future careers or even to help those of us who soon will need to supplement our incomes.

The meeting itself is destined to be memorable. First, the location, Miami/Miami Beach, has an intense grouping of medical and academic centers and can therefore provide a sound base for innovation and learning. The theme of last year's meeting was "Gathering Evidence. Proving Value." Where better than the Miami area to find out about evidence and value? This year's theme is the somewhat less catchy "Patient-Focused, High- Quality, Multidisciplinary Care" but still appropriate to Miami, where this type of care has always been able to be found .

Several events will highlight the 53rd Annual Meeting. On Sunday, October 2, President Leonard Gunderson will deliver his Presidential address on "Work-Life Balance/Effective Communication," with introductory remarks by Luther Campbell . The Plenary Session on Monday, October 3, has been expanded from presentations on Hypofractionated Treatment of Prostate Cancer by Allan Pollack, 3D-C vs. IMRT toxicity by Jeff Michalski, and Neoadjuvant Treatment of Rectal Cancer by Jean Pierre Gerard to also include a 10-year Randomized Comparison of Brachytherapy, Cryosurgery, and Hyperthermia by Vanilla Ice and Dwyane Wade . On Tuesday, October 4, the Keynote Address was to have been delivered by Miami icon Nevin Shapiro regarding financial ingenuity in practice management; however, since Mr. Shapiro has been unexpectedly detained , the address will be given by the person in charge of the ultimate Ponzi schemes , Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Also on Monday will be the presenting of the 2011 ASTRO Gold Medals to K. Kian Ang and Bernard Campbell and the 2011 ASTRO Gold Bling award to Flo Rida . This ceremony will then conclude with awarding of Honorary Membership to Roy A. Patchell for his work in neurological science, and, posthumously, to Gianni Versace for his work in field design.

The scientific program will be second to none, with a total of 3,464 abstracts and posters, all dedicated to the advancement of science and eradication of cancer, to be presented to the 37 persons who will not skip the meetings to party on South Beach .

Unfortunately, despite incredible progress of science and technology, socioeconomic issues continue to complicate delivery of patient care. There will be a special lunch presentation on October 2 on reimbursement matters, but, when the meeting is over, the most important thing to take away will be this one piece of Miami advice . The next time you feel you are being pushed around by regulators, insurance companies, politicians, or administrators, just remember your time in Miami and use the phrase that will get them to pay attention and see things your way.