SURGONConnect: Issue 5

SSO News 2018-5

Focus and Commitment to the SSO Strategic Plan: A Video Update from SSO President, Armando E. Giuliano, MD
Reimagining the Annual Cancer Symposium – What does that mean?
SSO – A Place for All Cancer Surgeons
SSO Affirms Global Leadership Role
SSO Professional Development Continues to Expand
Who is SSO? – Building a Brand Identity
Technologic Upgrades and Capital Investments Enhance Operations
Register Now for Upcoming Meetings

Focus and Commitment to the SSO Strategic Plan: A Video Update from SSO President, Armando E. Giuliano, MD

armando-videoThe SSO 2018 – 2020 Strategic Plan is well underway and several Society Committees and Task Forces have been focusing on achieving goals that will expand resources, increase member value and strengthen SSO’s position in the global cancer community. In this issue of SURGONConnect, you’ll hear specifics about the plan goals from fellow members.

SSO President Armando E. Giuliano, MD provides a brief summary of accomplishments in this video update.

Reimagining the Annual Cancer Symposium – What does that mean?

james-howeAfter months of conference calls, in June 2018 the Annual Symposium Reimagination Task Force met for 1 ½ days to have an exstensive discussion about all aspects of the Annual Cancer Symposium experience. Task Force Chair, James Howe, MD said, “Our challenge was to take a great clinical meeting and find new ways to enhance and deliver not only educational value, but also to create an environment that fosters a greater level of engagement and community.” During this meeting Task Force members reviewed years of attendee data. This data was a deep dive into all aspects of the meeting – from use of the mobile app to session attendance, from networking events to exhibit hall functions, from invited lecturers to registration rates – no topic was off limits.

The Task Force presented a full report and recommendations during the Executive Council meeting that was held in October during the 2018 ACS Clinical Congress. A total of 28 recommendations were approved that covered various topics including registration, education experience, networking, exhibit hall and technology. While several of these recommendations will be implemented during the 2020 meeting, several new concepts will be introduced at SSO 2019; including, a new registration category for residents and medical students, shortening symposia and parallel sessions to 90 minutes, increased networking opportunities and an increase in ePosters.

sanjay-bagariaSSO 2019 Scientific Program Chair, Sanjay Bagaria, MD said, “The Reimagination Task Force was a diverse group of surgical oncologists from academic and community settings, and research and non-research institutions. These unique perspectives, along with a comprehensive data-driven analysis of past meetings have enabled new ideas to emerge and be implemented in the upcoming meeting. I hope that SSO 2019 attendees will leave the symposium feeling inspired, wiser and better connected to cancer surgeons from around the globe.”

2017 Clinical Investigator Award Recipients Present Work at SSO 2019

Dr. Rebecca Gladdy portrait2017 Clinical Investigator Award recipients will also present an update on their funded research projects. Metabolic Reprogramming in Sarcoma – Repurposing Statins as Anticancer Agents is Dr. Rebecca Gladdy’s research project. Since receiving the CIA, her team has uncovered that metabolic reprogramming, the process whereby cancer cells are able to bypass normal cellular function so that they can survive in more stressed conditions, is important in several types of common adult sarcomas. Dr. Gladdy said, “We think that types of pathways that have been documented genetically to be abnormal in sarcoma predispose them to becoming more sensitive to drugs that inhibit these metabolic processes such as the use of statins, or cholesterol lowering agents.”

During SSO 2019, she will describe that using functional drug screens is a useful way to try to identify novel drug targets or in some cases helps repurpose drugs used for other more common human diseases for cancer therapies. Dr. Gladdy said, “With the support of our CIA funded grant, we have been able to test other common types of adult sarcoma and think we understand why statin therapies work in some sarcomas and not others.”

Dr. Genevieve Boland Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD is presenting the findings of her research, Tumor and Immune Monitoring via Exosomal Analysis in Patients on Targeted Therapy with Anti-PD1 Immunotherapy. Instead of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or cell-free DNA as a monitoring tool, Dr. Boland and her research team have been using circulating micro-vesicles, which are secreted by a variety of cell types including immune cells and tumor cells. Because they are protected from degradation in circulation, they contain intact RNA and allow for a dynamic read out of changes in tumor- and immune-cell states in real time. Her lab has the ability to benchmark these circulating changes to tumors and to compare the signatures in the blood to clinical outcomes.

Dr. Boland said, “One of the big, but pleasant surprises of the research was that we found that immune contribution seems to be more important in distinguishing response from non-response, and that would not have been detected with the other monitoring techniques like circulating-tumor cells or cell-free DNA.” During SSO 2019, Dr. Boland will further describe the use of this approach as part of a clinical trial and how this may impact immuno-oncology in the future. Dr. Boland said, “Receiving the CIA has allowed me to take preliminary data and apply it in a more clinically relevant setting, which I hope will allow us to operationalize these approaches and bring them one step closer to the clinic.”

SSO – A Place for All Cancer Surgeons

Achieving SSO’s mission to improve multidisciplinary patient care by advancing the science, education and practice of cancer surgery worldwide is not possible without a membership that is inclusive of all cancer surgeons. Ensuring a welcoming environment that fosters meaningful engagement, a sense of community and recognition are objectives of the Strategic Plan goal of membership.

tari-and-julieOne objective of the Membership Strategic Plan goal is to investigate the development of a Fellow of the SSO designation. A Work Group, led by Tari King, MD, as Chair and Julie Ann Sosa, MD as Vice Chair, held a Town Hall meeting at the recent ACS Clinical Congress. During this program they presented the rationale and proposed criteria for the designation. Over 75 SSO members attended the meeting that concluded with a constructive Q&A period. Based on comments from the meeting, Work Group members will continue to refine this proposed program and plan an additional input session during the SSO Town Hall and Business Meeting to be held at SSO 2019 on Saturday, March 30, 2019.


The recently launched membership campaign, SSO Much More, highlights the value of membership, not only through educational programs, but also through the global leadership of the Society and the impact of networking and community. The campaign features brief testimonials from several members. Watch for the emails or visit SSO’s YouTube channel to view the videos.

SSO Affirms Global Leadership Role

world-cancer-congress-2018The SSO, in collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), presented a joint session at the World Cancer Congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that highlighted how surgical and medical education is an important investment in building a sustainable cancer care workforce, yet it is one of the most neglected areas, especially in low-income countries. The SSO/ESSO Global Curriculum in Surgical Oncology and ASCO/ESMO Global Curriculum in Medical Oncology were introduced and presented in this session that attracted a diverse audience which included surgeons, physicians, health policy and advocacy professionals and officials from global health organizations.

The Q&A discussion following the presentations reinforced the extreme difficulty in training surgeons to practice safe cancer surgery in remote areas and confirmed the need to develop a tool to assist with the implementation of the Global Curriculum in Surgical Oncology. SSO International Committee Chair, Chandrakanth Are, MD, noted that attendees were appreciative of the curriculum and said, “This was a very successful session for SSO and demonstrated its emergence on the global stage as a leader for cancer surgery. Had the SSO not presented at the World Cancer Congress, this curriculum would not have reached the broader audience it was intended for. Within two years of the SSO becoming a member of the Union for International Cancer Control, the SSO was able to make a good impact and enhance its global visibility and image.”

Dr. Are envisions that SSO will continue to actively participate in future World Cancer Congresses and continue to establish itself as the global society that is leading the way to address disparities and inequities in surgical care for cancer patients. This continued collaboration would also result in the SSO and the Global Forum of Cancer Surgeons (GFCS) being recognized as the leaders in cancer surgery by global entities such as the World Health Organization and the Union for International Cancer Control. This objective is expected to be one of the agenda items that will be discussed at the third annual meeting of the GFCS that will take place at SSO 2019 in San Diego, California.

Another approach that the SSO has taken to address international educational disparities is through the programs that are offered to SSO members. The SSO International Committee is charged with the oversight of these programs and SSO International Committee member Rebecca Auer, MD, notes, “The SSO recognizes that cancer is a global problem and while infrastructure, resources and even biology often differ, many of the challenges we face are the same. There is an incredible opportunity to learn from each other by sharing ideas, data and creative solutions. Fostering these collaborations is allowing the SSO to create a global network and I expect that future efforts will include a coordinated plan to address the global cancer epidemic.”

For additional information on SSO’s global programs and initiatives, please visit our website. For more information about how your global society can join the GFCS, please email

SSO Professional Development Continues to Expand

expertedDid you know that SSO’s learning management system, ExpertED@SSO, has had more than 10,000 visits by over 1,200 physicians? If you haven’t visited the site, take a few moments to check out more than 75 educational programs. SSO’s Education Council Vice Chair Glenda Calendar, MD, said, “One activity that I find extremely valuable on ExpertED is the SSO 2018 Virtual Meeting. This is a great way to review session content, or if you didn’t attend the SSO 2018, you have easy access to the most current clinical information.”

Career-long education, recertification and quality patient care make up the strategic plan’s education goal. The SSO Education Council is committed to the development of 50 new educational programs for ExpertED over the next two years. Some of these programs will leverage new research presented during the Annual Cancer Symposium, as well as research published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. In order to ensure the development of the most relevant programs, the Education Council is comprised of Disease Site Work Group Chairs and members of other SSO Committees and reviews proposals brought forward by internal or external stakeholders.

Listed below are a few upcoming ExpertED@SSO programs that are free to members.

Current Controversies in Neoadjuvant Therapy for Borderline Resectable and Locally Advanced Pancreatic Cancer, November 26, 2018 at 5:30 pm EST
This webinar will identify the benefits of neoadjuvant therapy in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), compare options for neoadjuvant therapy and have a better understanding of how to assess current practices. Faculty for this program include Clifford Cho, MD, Theodore S. Hong, MD, Christina R. Ferrone, MD and Robert A. Wolff, MD.

Current Management of the Axilla in Breast Cancer, December 10, 2018 at 6:00 pm EST
Prospective trials have established new options for managing the axillary nodes in patients with breast cancer, but appropriate options vary based on clinical presentation, planned surgical procedure and timing of surgery and chemotherapy. Surgeons need to understand when axillary dissection is indicated for nodal metastases and when sentinel node biopsy alone is appropriate as well as to identify patients most likely to avoid axillary dissection through the use of neoadjuvant therapy.  Faculty for this program are: Monica Morrow, MD, Armando Giuliano, MD and Melissa Pilewski, MD.

Adjuvant Therapy in High Risk Melanoma, on December 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm EST
The staging of melanoma has changed and has impact on care decisions, which have evolved across disease stages. Participants in this program will be better able to identify changes in the staging system and understand adjuvant treatment options and proper indications related to BRAF negative patients. Faculty for this program are: Richard White, Jr., MD, Genevieve Boland, MD, PhD, Mary Sue Brady, MD and Jeffrey Sosman, MD.

Who is SSO? – Building a Brand Identity

RobertMartin-and-Margo-ShoupThe foundation of a healthy Society has many components, one of which is a strong brand identity. A strong brand image enables members to understand and remember the value that it offers. SSO’s strategic plan recognizes the need for all members to understand how the Society provides benefits across a number of areas. Over the last several months, the Brand Development Task Force worked to define the value that SSO provides. Task Force Chair, Robert Martin, II, MD, PhD said, “The composition of the Task Force was very inclusive, with representatives from different career stages, academic and community settings and from different countries.” Dr. Martin further explains, “A key reason to have a brand identity is to have a defined foundation for what it means to be an SSO member. Members have an internal reason or goal for joining, but it may be hard to articulate the benefits when asked. My goal is that the brand identity will unify all members of the Society and that members will have a consistent understanding of the benefits the Society provides.” Task Force member Margo Shoup, MD, said, “The open dialogue among the members of the Task Force enabled us to look at issues from all angles and despite our varied backgrounds, we were able to come to consensus on a number of topics. I’m very excited about how we have defined the value that SSO provides and the need for the Society to be inclusive of all surgeons who treat cancer.”

The Brand Development Task Force presented their recommendations for a new brand identity to the Executive Council’s October meeting, which were enthusiastically received. Look for the new identity at SSO 2019.

Technologic Upgrades and Capital Investments Enhance Operations

Approximately six years ago, SSO became an independently managed Society. Since that time the organization has grown and offers several best-in-class resources to members. The operational necessities required to maintain a productive Society were not overlooked in the Strategic Plan. Capital investments including an expanded office and new technologies including accounting system upgrades are in the works to ensure that delivery of member services and benefits continues to grow. SSO CEO, M. Eileen Widmer, CAE, CFRM, said, “There is a methodical and collaborative process in place with the SSO Finance Committee to ensure budget planning and capital investments are aligned with the Strategic Plan. While there are many initiatives in the three-year plan, sequencing the expenditures over the duration of the plan allows for ongoing assessment and fine tuning of operational and technological needs.”

SSO members can learn more about the Society’s operational plans by attending the next SSO Town Hall and Business meeting during SSO 2019 on Saturday, March 30, 2019.  

SSO Events and Announcements


Register Now for Upcoming Meetings

cgsoSave the date! SSO is launching a full-day CGSO Board Exam Review Course, taking place January 26, 2019 in Chicago, IL at the Hilton O’Hare. The course is available to CGSO fellows, breast oncology fellows, and surgical residents, as well as practicing surgical oncologists who wish to undergo a refresher or update. Learn more about this program, which includes a mock oral exam session.

Cropped RCT logoThe 14th International Symposium on Regional Cancer Therapies is being held on February 16–18, 2019 in Phoenix, AZ. This International Symposium will serve as a comprehensive forum to promote research, development and application of regional cancer therapies.


Register now for SSO 2019, March 27–30, 2019 in San Diego, CA. SSO 2019 will feature an education program that covers, research developments, clinical trials, new technology, and future trends in cancer care. Much of what you’ll learn you’ll be able to immediately integrate into your treatment of patients. Featured lecturers include SSO President, Armando E. Giuliano, MD, Monica Morrow, MD and Lieping Chen, MD, PhD. SSO 2019 will also provide enhanced networking opportunities so that you have more time to meet casually with colleagues and old friends.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium

SSO Partners with ASCO for Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium, January 17 – 19, 2019 in San Francisco. SSO Immediate Past President, Kelly McMasters, MD, PhD delivers the keynote lecture: The Fundamental Difference Between Palliative Treatment and Palliative Care. Learn more and register.