IASLC CEO Karen Kelly, MD, an internationally recognized lung cancer expert, recently spoke with ILCN about the 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer, which begins today at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Center. In the following Q&A, get some behind-the-scenes insights, hear her tips for making the most of WCLC 23, and find out what she’s looking forward to in Singapore.
ILCN: As the 2023 World Conference on Lung Cancer approaches, what sessions or events are you looking forward to most and why?
Dr. Kelly: There are so many outstanding sessions that it is hard to choose. I think at the top of most attendees’ lists are the plenary sessions. I am thrilled that we are beginning the meeting exploring the topic of equity and access to lung cancer care during the Opening Plenary Session (learn more). We have two dynamic speakers, Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, who is an international advocate for cancer control and non-communicable diseases, and Dr. Gary Rodin, who is the Director of the Global Institute of Psychosocial, Palliative and Endo-of-Life Care at the University of Toronto.
For the first time we have dedicated a plenary session to presentations by our lectureship award winners (Plenary Session 2). Our members and their work is what makes the IASLC the leading authority on thoracic malignancy, so it is an honor to recognize their work in a prominent manner and a privilege to hear from these accomplished leaders in our field.
Plenary Session 3, the Presidential Symposium, is where original and practice-changing data will be presented and is highly anticipated. We have a special fourth plenary session this year—TNM for Lung, Mesothelioma and Thymic Cancers: Update on the Proposals for the 9th Edition of TNM Staging—that I am very proud of as CEO of IASLC. I admire the 10-year dedication by our IASLC members and staff to continue to refine the staging system for the benefit of our patients.
Plenary Session 5: Transforming Discovery into Treatments in Lower- and Middle-Income Regions demonstrates the association’s commitment to these regions. Finally, our Closing Plenary Session 6, Advances in Lung Cancer Pathology, will showcase how IASLC is leading the way on major pathological response to neoadjuvant therapies, and will highlight its heightened relevance to patient care and future drug development.
ILCN: As the chief executive of the IASLC, when you talk with members or others in the field of thoracic oncology, what issues do they want to discuss? In other words, what is top of mind for lung cancer professionals today, and how does the annual World Conference help the profession address these top-of-mind concerns?
Dr. Kelly: Significant and up-to-date clinical information regarding thoracic malignancies is consistently emerging. WCLC provides a platform for engaging in valuable and dynamic peer-to-peer conversations about how to interpret and use new data and about what the future holds. This year, there has been a strong focus on data endorsing the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in early-stage disease. This topic has taken center stage in discussions because of the existence of three treatment pathways: neoadjuvant, adjuvant, or a combination of neoadjuvant followed by adjuvant therapy. Deciphering the most suitable strategy for each individual patient poses challenges.
This practice-changing data will be presented and thoroughly discussed during WCLC. Hearing the data in real time and immediately having a conversational dialogue is priceless. In addition, WCLC provides a “think tank” forum to tackle challenges such as overcoming drug resistance both in the immunotherapy and TKI space.
ILCN: What advice or tips do you have for virtual attendees to help them stay engaged and get the most out of their WCLC experience?
Dr. Kelly: We recognize that while some members want to join us in person, various circumstances may mean that is not feasible. While we feel the physical absence of our colleagues, we find solace in their virtual participation. If time zones align, I strongly urge our virtual attendees to engage in the live streaming of the plenary sessions and to actively contribute to the chat discussions. Their involvement will undoubtedly enhance the overall meeting experience for all. When time zone differences make live streaming difficult, on-demand programming and social media can allow for discussion of the science from anywhere in the world. I encourage all attendees—virtual and in-person alike—to join the digital discussion by sharing their questions, observations, and favorite presentations on their social channels using #WCLC23.
ILCN: Have you been to Singapore previously? What are you most excited about seeing or doing beyond the convention center walls?
Dr. Kelly: I have visited Singapore on two occasions, each time to ensure we provide attendees with an unforgettable and enriching scientific and social program. Navigating the city is incredibly convenient due to its user-friendly layout. The airport not only boasts captivating aesthetics but also operates with remarkable efficiency. Given my love for hiking in the Colorado mountains, I am looking forward to delving into Singapore’s natural wonders. Topping my list are the Supertree Grove, the Gardens by the Bay, and the Cloud Forest. They are all in the same vicinity making it convenient, but if you go, be prepared to spend several hours exploring.