Conference Coverage

Joao Ascensao Talks AVAHO 2015

Conference to focus on “Precision and Personalized Medicine” as VA becomes more patient centric.



Federal Practitioner sat down with current AVAHO President Joao Ascensao, MD, to discuss his hopes for AVAHO’s growth and development and to learn some details about the upcoming 2015 meeting to be held October 2-4 in Washington, DC.

According to Dr. Ascensao, the organization chose the conference theme of “Precision and Personalized Medicine” for this year’s meeting because hematology and oncology are moving in a more patient-centric direction, and AVAHO members need to learn about the advances in those fields. Precision and personalized medicine focuses on treating the whole individual with cancer, rather than just the disease.

“This is clearly coming to the forefront, and the amount of information we have accumulated is helping us in establishing new paradigms for many cancers,” Dr. Ascensao said. “We should remember we treat patients with cancer, not just cancer.”

Dr. Ascensao said that the “team approach” to precision medicine can help make the “terrifying diagnosis” of cancer less scary for patients. “Working in a team with the patient, caregiver, family, supporting them; teaching them about the benefits of an adequate nutrition, exercise, yoga, etc. is an important part of a total treatment for cancer patients,” he said.

“This is a going to be a well-rounded conference touching on many topics of interest to practitioners and others involved in the care of veterans,” Dr. Ascensao said. “There will be lots of new areas and interactive sessions.”

Dr. Ascensao said that he believes incorporating such relevant and growing themes into the annual meeting will help make AVAHO a premiere oncology group in the future.

“We want AVAHO to be a ‘go-to’ meeting for anyone who interacts with veterans with hematologic-oncologic problems, and this includes physicians, pharmacists, nurses, tumor registrars, social workers, nutritionists, psychologists, and others,” he said. “We want attendees to enjoy the meeting, network with colleagues, learn something they can bring back home, decide to become more involved in our society, get needed CEs, and be able to explore Washington, DC.”

In addition to his work with AVAHO, Dr. Ascensao is a hematologist at the Washington, DC VAMC.

Registration for the 2015 AVAHO meeting is now open.

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