With two days' notice, 16 000 attendees of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting have been told the meeting is cancelled.

The meeting was due to be held in Toronto, Canada April 5–9. But organizers decided to cancel because of fears that SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the mystery Asian pneumonia that struck Toronto after a traveller returned from Hong Kong with the disease, might affect patients of the physicians attending the meeting.

Warren Froelich, AACR's Director of Communications, told The Scientist that the Toronto and Ontario public health authorities had given assurances that the risk was "quite minimal," and that the outbreak was under control, but many AACR members — especially clinicians — had been calling AACR to cancel their attendance.

Institutions including the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center were issuing advisories to their staff suggesting that they should not attend, and that if...

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