Saturday, 15 November 2014

Last day and the Best of the Rest - NCRI Cancer Conference

In some ways Wednesday morning felt a bit of an anticlimax.  There were no posters to view, the exhibitors were gone and delegates were leaving for the station throughout the morning.  Never-the-less, it started with a thought provoking plenary lecture by Peter Vedsted from Aarhus University.  His title was 'From symptom to cancer treatment: the vital clinical and political leadership'.

Denmark, like the UK, lags somewhat behind most of the rest of the developed world in cancer survivorship and the two countries also have a similar primary-secondary care interface. This makes an examination of the symptom to start of treatment phases of cancer care an obvious subject of study.  Peter Vedsted looked at the responsiveness of primary care and GP's access to investigations with a view to a faster symptom to treatment pathway. Guidelines for onward referral, duplication of work and in/efficient use of resources were discussed.

This plenary was followed by a set of parallel sessions before the final plenary lecture was given by Elaine Mardis of Washington University. She spoke about cancer genomics and recent trends.  Heterogeneity was again a key issue, including the role of medication in this process. She discussed an autopsy case study in which multiple metastatic sites were sampled and which showed that some did and some did not respond to targeted therapy. She then went on to speak about co-opting the immune system and the use of personalised vaccines to support this.

Then it was time for Charles Swanton to make the closing remarks and whet the appetite for next year's conference.

There is never enough time to go to everything of interest and parallel sessions, while sensible and practical, can make decision-making difficult. On top of this, many of the consumers have issues with fatigue and we need to take a break every now and then.  So here are some of the sessions I would have liked to attend but couldn't …

Peter Sasieni hosted a a session on prevention with Jack Cuzick on chemo-prevention of breast cancer, Peter Rothwell on the effect of aspirin and Tim Lobstein looking at obesity. However, I was committed elsewhere at that time slot.

I would have liked to have attended 'Interventional Oncolgy', which examined trends in the interface between clinical oncology and radiology, but unfortunately it clashed with the debate. I also missed the sessions on 'Cancer Evolution' and 'Biology of the Radiation Response' due to clashes.

I could (just) have squeezed in 'Routes from diagnosis …' but in what was a very full day and evening I really did need those 70 minutes to go back to my room, have a shower, a cup of tea and put my feet up for a bit.

But you can't do everything and it is the sign of a good conference when you leave wishing you'd had more time but knowing that you probably couldn't have taken in much more.

No comments:

Post a Comment