ashley glode

Ashley Glode, PharmD BCOP
Assistant Professor
University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy
Aurora, CO

The 2019 National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Annual Conference, “Improving the Quality, Effectiveness, and Efficiency of Cancer Care,” was held at the Rosen Shingle Creek March 21–23, 2019, in Orlando, FL.1 This meeting welcomed more than 1,650 physicians/oncologists, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals from the United States and around the globe who manage the care of patients with cancer. A total of 17.75 hours of continuing education credit was available to attendees.

Educational goals of the program were for participants to be able to

  • summarize the current standards of oncology care and key updates from the following NCCN guidelines and integrate these strategies into patient care as appropriate: bladder cancer, breast cancer, central nervous system cancers, chronic myeloid leukemia, colon and rectal cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, neuroendocrine tumors, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and sarcomas
  • evaluate new, emerging, and novel therapeutic agents, advances in care, and clinical trials data and apply relevant findings to the management of patients with cancer
  • review supportive care issues affecting the management of patients with cancer in order to improve patient outcomes
  • discuss the changes and challenges affecting the staging of multiple cancers using the eighth edition of the AJCC Staging Manual, published by the American Joint Committee on Cancer.

The conference opened with a keynote session titled “Patient Experience with Innovative Therapies” and included a panel discussion by Frederick Locke, MD, an oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center; Jeffrey Backer, MD FACEP, an emergency physician and cancer survivor; and Alix Beaupierre, BSN RN OCN, a nurse coordinator in the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic at the Moffitt Cancer Center.2 Dr. Locke discussed CAR T-cell therapy, its role in the management of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), and its expected side effects; he also highlighted the inclusion of the management of CAR T-cell–related toxicities in the updated NCCN guideline Management of Immunotherapy-Related Toxicities.3 Dr. Backer discussed his journey of being diagnosed with DLBCL and enduring the treatment, specifically CAR T-cell therapy. He discussed the consent process for participating in a CAR T-cell study, relating how overwhelming the number of pages and amount of information in the consent form were. He talked about the need to better explain the process of CAR T-cell therapy to patients so that they and their caregivers will know what to expect throughout the process. Ms. Beaupierre discussed how the process has evolved since Dr. Backer received his treatment; the clinic now uses flowsheets and calendars to help prepare patients for their CAR T-cell therapy.

A roundtable discussion also took place on the first day of the conference: “Emerging Issues in Oncology—Ensuring Access to, and Delivery of, Innovative Therapies and Patient Centered Care in Oncology.”4 Clifford Goodman, PhD, senior vice president for the Lewin Group, served as the moderator for several panelists: Stefanie Joho, survivor, health advocate, and consultant; Frederick Locke, MD, oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center; Jennifer Malin, MD PhD, senior medical director, oncology and genetics, at UnitedHealth Group; John Sweetenham, MD, professor of medicine, executive medical director, and science director of clinical affairs at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah; and Lalan Wilfong, MD, medical oncologist/hematologist at Texas Oncology. The panel discussed delivering and receiving cancer therapies in a patient-centered care model as well as the high cost of medications and the use of biosimilars.

Poster sessions were held on March 21–22, with nearly 150 posters presented over the 2-day period. Poster abstracts from the conference are available on, the official website of JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.5 The session on March 23 gave special recognition to selected posters for oral presentations.

Following the poster presentations, Abubakar Bello, MD, presented “NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa.”6 Dr. Bello is head of the department of radiotherapy and oncology at the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, and a member of the African Cancer Coalition, an organization of more than 40 oncologists from 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa who are dedicated to improving access to high-quality cancer treatment. Dr. Bello reviewed the current landscape of cancer in Africa, the rationale and process for creating the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines, and the expected impact on cancer care from the use of the adapted NCCN guidelines.

The NCCN Annual Conference was full of a variety of educational opportunities—a combination of panel discussions and multidisciplinary presentations—focused on updates in hematologic malignancies, solid tumors, and supportive care issues.

The 2020 conference will be held March 20–22 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, FL. More information can be found at:


  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. 2019 Annual Conference. Improving the Quality, Effectiveness, and Efficiency of Cancer Care: Conference Guide.
  2. Locke FL, Backer J, Beaupierre A. Patient Experience with Innovative Therapies. Presented at the NCCN Annual Conference. March 21, 2019. Orlando, FL.
  3. National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines. Management of Immunotherapy-Related Toxicities. Available at Accessed April 16, 2019.
  4. Goodman C, Joho S, Locke FL, Malin J, Sweetenham JW, Wilfong LS. NCCN Roundtable Discussion: Emerging Issues in Oncology—Ensuring Access to, and Delivery of, Innovative Therapies and Patient Centered Care in Oncology. Presented at the NCCN Annual Conference. March 21, 2019. Orlando, FL.
  5. Abstracts from the NCCN 24th Annual Conference. JNCCN 2019;17(3.5).
  6. Bello AM. Invited presentation: NCCN Harmonized Guidelines for Sub-Saharan Africa. Presented at the NCCN Annual Conference. March 22, 2019. Orlando, FL.