Notes from a conference: Caring for every patient, learning from every patient
brainstrust was privileged to win a bursary to attend ASCO: the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference. With more than 40,000 attendees, it must be one of the biggest conferences in the world. It is cross cutting in themes, covering all aspects of cancer – practice and guidelines, research, treatments, care, education and training, policy and advocacy. All under one roof (well, many roofs).
What did we learn?
Community is big this year (its always big for us). Here are
the resonating themes:
- Disparities in cancer care – increasing access to care and research (using community led approaches to break down the silos of academic cancer centres)
- Using real world data to advance research and care (being connected – few data systems are configured in a way that data can be shared)
- Cancer pain management
- Global cancer technologies
- Fine tuning of immunotherapy – looking at response and resistance and overcoming toxicities
- How to overcome barriers to trial enrolment
- Focus on surgical oncology and integrative, interdisciplinary and collaborative research
- Radiotherapy is still prescribed as a one size fits all strategy, which is not inline with the precision medicine model, so biology in radiotherapy needs developing
- Most efforts in radiotherapy related outcomes have focused on improved technology, which improves related toxicity but not outcomes.
The key note address – Atul Gawande: ‘Having your best possible day’. If you’ve never heard, read or listen to Atul’s wise words then put the kettle on, put your feet up and give him the time of day. Much of what this wonderful man says drives our ethos. It’s about having richer conversations, about articulating what is our goal here when living with a brain tumour. It’s about what living a good day really means, and then making it possible. It’s about not overthinking our goal – it’s very simple. It’s about health and independence. And when this isn’t possible anymore it seems we are lost. But we just need to recalibrate, set a new goal, make a plan and make it happen. That way we can have our best possible day, and life is worth living.