News and Publications

H&N abstracts deadline today, ASTRO asks for reforms to RO Model, new pancreatic cancer guideline

September 4, 2019

Today is the deadline to submit abstracts for Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium
The 2020 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium takes place February 27-29 at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona. Submit your research today for this prestigious and clinically relevant meeting covering all aspects of head and neck cancer treatment. The program provides the most up-to-date information on multidisciplinary therapies, the latest clinical research, new treatment strategies, supportive care, scientific breakthroughs and toxicity mitigation. The meeting is co-sponsored by the American Head and Neck Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, ASTRO and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer. View the guidelines and submit your abstract today, Wednesday, September 4, by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time.

ASTRO asks HHS Secretary to make needed reforms to RO Model
In an August 29 letter previewing official comments on the proposed Radiation Oncology Alternative Payment Model (RO Model), ASTRO recommended significant changes to avoid risking patient access to safe and effective radiation oncology services. The letter, sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, highlighted key concerns and policy solutions related to mandatory participation, national case rates, efficiency and discount factors, the APM incentive payment, innovation and administrative burden. In the letter, ASTRO notes that the proposed model has serious flaws but none of these issues are insurmountable and that ASTRO seeks to ensure that the finalized RO Model released this fall will incentivize the use of high quality, efficient radiation therapy treatments. ASTRO will share draft official comments with members and the radiation oncology community in advance of the September 16 comment deadline. In addition, ASTRO is requesting the support of Congressional champions and expects to provide members with opportunities to engage directly in the coming weeks. For more information, go to What’s Happening in Washington.

Congressional hearing on efforts to #FixPriorAuth
On Wednesday, September 11, the House of Representatives Small Business Committee will hold a hearing on overutilization of prior authorization. The hearing is titled “Utilization Management: Barriers to Care and Burdens on Small Medical Practice.” Radiation oncology and cancer patients have been particularly hard hit by prior authorization’s unnecessary burden and interference in care decisions. For more information on the hearing and how you can help #FixPriorAuth, visit What’s Happening in Washington.

New guideline on RT for pancreatic cancer published

The ASTRO guideline on radiation therapy for pancreatic cancer was published online August 29 in Practical Radiation Oncology and will appear in the September-October print edition. This guideline was developed with representation from the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the task force comprised radiation oncologists, a surgical oncologist, a medical oncologist, a medical physicist and a patient representative. The guideline discusses both conventional and stereotactic radiation therapy, as well as technical aspects of radiation delivery and use of prophylactic medications for toxicity. Learn more in the latest blogpost.

Minor bylaws changes to be presented at Annual Business Meeting
There have been two substantive changes dealing with membership categories and the election of officers that require changes to the existing bylaws. The ASTRO Board of Directors approved two new membership categories, one for postdoctoral fellows and one for medical students. Adding these types of members will help raise the profile of radiation oncology to a broader audience. In addition, under the current bylaws, the slate for election of leaders for the five councils is handled differently depending on the specific council. The Health Policy and Government Relations councils’ leadership could run only in uncontested elections, while Quality, Education and Science councils could run in either contested or uncontested elections. The Board felt that all candidates for leadership of the councils should be handled in the same manner, and the bylaws have been modified to allow all council elections to be either contested or uncontested. The revised bylaws can be viewed on ASTRO’s website. The changes will be explained during the Business Meeting on Tuesday, September 17, at 11:00 a.m., in Room W183, McCormick Place West, during ASTRO’s 61st Annual Meeting in Chicago.

#ASTRO19 ‘Social Media at a Medical Meeting’ webinar tomorrow
Don’t miss ASTRO’s webinar tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. Eastern time, covering social media best practices and tips for attendees of the 2019 Annual Meeting. Both new users of social media and seasoned social media experts are invited to learn more about using social media effectively during ASTRO’s Annual Meeting. #ASTRO19 Social Champion Fumiko Chino, MD, will provide her insights into why it is important to use social media and how her perspective as a doctor provides valuable content on social channels. This webinar will be recorded for later viewing. Register now!

New podcast available on radiation therapy payment policy
In the latest Red Journal podcast, available today, ASTRO Health Policy analyst Jessica Adams interviews Michael Roach, MD, and Najeeb Mohideen, MD, FASTRO, about their articles in the July 15 edition of the Red Journal. Dr. Roach shares his findings regarding how payer policies for stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) compare with ASTRO’s SBRT model policy, while Dr. Mohideen highlights why physicians should be mindful of how procedure codes are developed in their daily practice. Both authors discuss how participating in an ASTRO committee impacts how they practice and why they recommend volunteering. Contact Red Journal staff with any questions.

WVU Medicine Network receives APEx accreditation
Congratulations to West Virginia University Medicine and Fairmont Regional Cancer Center, in West Virginia, for recently completing the ASTRO Accreditation Program for Excellence (APEx®). To be fully accredited, a facility must meet a majority of the APEx standards in a satisfactory manner, and the accreditation status is valid for four years. View a list of accredited facilities, and contact ASTRO staff for additional information on the APEx program.

Impact patient care by attending the Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium
The Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium, taking place October 25-26 in San Francisco, bridges the gap between important scientific updates and practical applications to transform palliative and supportive care. The Symposium features a diverse program of sessions for all health care professionals, including topics like “Driving Palliative Care Forward into the Era of CAR-T and Medical Cannabis – The Joint Venture of Science and Care Delivery.” This meeting is co-sponsored by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and ASTRO. Register by September 18 to receive the early registration rate.