For the Press

Attendance in Boston is Record-Breaking for SSO Annual Cancer Symposium

Author: SSO Staff
Mar 07, 2016

ROSEMONT, IL – The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) announces record-breaking attendance at the 69th SSO Annual Cancer Symposium. More than 1,800 surgical oncologists and other oncology health care professionals from around the world gathered in Boston March 2-5, 2016 to discuss new research and advancements in the treatment of patients with solid tumor cancers.

SSO 2016 focused on the treatments of tomorrow that can be applied to today’s surgical oncology patients with cancers including breast, colorectal, endocrine, gastrointestinal, head and neck, liver and pancreas, melanoma and sarcoma. Throughout the four days of comprehensive and intense educational programming, SSO 2016 attendees took part in plenary sessions, cancer-type parallel sessions and workshops, and had access to more than 400 poster sessions, late-breaking videos, networking opportunities and an exhibition where attendees discovered the latest in medical equipment, services and solutions for surgical oncologists. Additionally, SSO 2016 featured two sessions of The Great Debates, one of the most popular elements of the meeting. During each session of The Great Debates, renowned surgical oncologists debated controversial topics in topical procedures and treatments, arguing both sides of each timely topic.

“Specialists in surgical oncology rely on the SSO Annual Cancer Symposium year after year for advanced knowledge, new insight and hands-on interaction with the latest developments in surgical oncology,” said Jeffrey A. Drebin, MD, PhD, immediate past president of the SSO. “The research and insights shared at SSO 2016 were truly remarkable, confirming that as a profession, we are making great strides in the fight against cancer.”

Highlights of SSO 2016 included four prominent, featured lecturers sharing advancements from their own research findings:

  • Dr. Drebin, The John Rhea Barton Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, presented the Presidential Address at SSO 2016. Dr. Drebin discussed, from a personal perspective, the benefit of surgical oncologists becoming highly involved in the exploration of new therapies for cancer. As a PhD student, Dr. Drebin was one of the first researchers involved in the seminal work behind Her2/neu.
  • Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute, described the evolution of work being done in his laboratory to induce T cells to attack cancer. Dr. Rosenberg has been working on this strategy for nearly 50 years and has been making remarkable progress. At SSO 2016, he shared some of the newer strategies in T cell research, including genome sequencing of cancer.
  • José Baselga, MD, PhD, Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, shared some of the work being done at his institution as well as others in using personalized medicine to fight cancer. There are many more similarities between different types of cancers – breast, colon, pancreas, etc. – than was originally believed. Oncology health care professionals are now understanding the molecular changes present and the similarities between these cancers, even though they represent different tissue types.
  • David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, Professor and Director of the Lustgarten Foundation Pancreatic Research Laboratory at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, presented on his work involving mouse models, particularly mice demonstrating similar genetic and molecular changes to the changes occurring in humans with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Tuveson unveiled new developments of therapies in these mouse models that are translatable to humans.

Other highlights included the recognition of many who have made significant contributions to the area of surgical oncology:

  • Distinguished Service Award – Mark S. Roh, MD, President and Chairman, Department of Surgery, UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health
  • James Ewing Layperson’s Award – Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, Chief Executive Officer, American Association for Cancer Research
  • Colorectal Cancer Research Scholar Award – David Y. Lee, MD, John Wayne Cancer Institute
  • Harvey Baker Travelling Fellow Award – Lea Lowenfeld, MD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Award – Carlos A. Puig, MD, Mayo Clinic
  • Best Clinical Research Poster – Anne Kuijer, MD, Diakonessenhuis Utrecht
  • Best Basic/Translational Research Poster – Gregor Werba, MD, NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Clinical Research Paper – Anita Mamtani, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Basic Science Research Paper – Michael G. White, MD, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine

Richard D. Schulick, MD, MBA, Professor and Chair of Department of Surgery, University of Colorado School of Medicine and SSO 2016 Scientific Program Committee Chair, describes an air of sanguinity upon the close of the conference. “There is a lot of room for optimism,” he explains. “As our basic knowledge, genetic knowledge and molecular knowledge of cancer improves, our therapies are really becoming more effective. What we have to offer today is so much more than 20 years ago. The advancements that we make in the next two decades will be astonishing.”

To learn more about the specific education program at SSO 2016 and awards that were presented, visit

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About the Society of Surgical Oncology

The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) is the premier organization for surgeons and health care providers dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and treatment of cancer. The Society’s focus on all solid-tumor disease sites is reflected in its Annual Cancer Symposium, monthly scientific journal (Annals of Surgical Oncology), educational initiatives and committee structure. The Society’s mission is to improve multidisciplinary patient care by advancing the science, education and practice of cancer surgery worldwide.