Radiation oncology experts from across Australia and around the world gathered in Newcastle, NSW last month to unveil new research breakthroughs and explore the future of radiation therapy clinical trials, as part of TROG Cancer Research’s 27th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM).
Over 240 delegates from across Australia and NZ attended the conference from March 24-26 to explore the theme: ‘The ongoing evolution of collaborative trials’.
TROG ASM Convenor and Radiation Oncologist, Associate Professor Jarad Martin, said the three-day conference provided a valuable opportunity for radiation therapy professionals from all areas to collectively discuss and influence the direction of current and future cancer clinical trials.
“This is the largest gathering of radiation therapy cancer specialists in Australia this year, and allowed us to collaborate on exciting new technology and outcomes form competed trials.” he said.
“It was a real coup for Newcastle to be able to host this event, and our city impressed delegates from around Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the world.”
International speakers who attended were renowned Radiation Oncologists, Professor Charles Catton from Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Canada; Dr Kevin Franks from St James’ Institute of Oncology in Leeds, UK; and Associate Professor Paul Nguyen from Harvard Medical School, USA. All three speakers provided unique perspectives on radiotherapy clinical trials, their health systems and the challenges faced in their respective parts of the world. Their attendance at the ASM garnered both local and national media attention.
Highlights of the meeting included discussion of two innovative new TROG radiotherapy clinical trials: the newly-launched TROG lung cancer trial SAFRON II and TROG’s upcoming prostate cancer trial SPARK, both of which will use ground-breaking radiotherapy techniques to better target tumours, reduce treatment time and side-effects and improve life expectancy.
The meeting included more TROG trial updates than any previous ASM, with exciting results and updates in the areas of prostate, lung, breast, bladder, oesophagus, bone, blood and skin cancer. There was lots of positive feedback received about the new conference format, which featured interactive, sub-specialty group sessions.
An innovative and interactive social media session was held on the final day of the meeting, hosted by Dr Sandra Turner. Using the #TROG2015 hashtag, the ‘global tweet-in’ featured Radiation Oncologist and Twitter guru, Dr Matthew Katz on Skype from the US, while people from all over the world joined in the live Twitter chat to discuss, “What’s the best thing on the horizon for Radiation Therapy?”. The hashtag #TROG2015 used almost 600 times during the ASM – and even Australian Socceroo star Tommy Oar joined the Twitter conversation to highlight the importance of, “Better and more accessible treatment for everyone who needs it”.
In keeping with TROG’s continued focus on consumer and community engagement, the group launched its new patient-focused television commercial, which will soon be rolled out as a Community Service Announcement.
The 2014 ‘TROGIE’ achievement award was given to TROG Independent Consumer Director, Dr Ian Roos, for his outstanding contribution to the group. Dr Roos had been an integral part of the research group over the past three years and the award recognised his achievements and dedication in the area of cancer research and his passion for consumer advocacy.
Professor Gillian Duchesne was presented with the TROG ‘Lifetime Membership Award’ for her service to the group and Dr Michael Penniment received the ‘Trial Excellence Award’ for his work on the TROG 03.01 trial, which found that radiation therapy (RT) alone is as effective in decreasing swallowing complications experienced by advanced esophageal cancer patients as RT combined with chemotherapy, thus allowing patients to forgo chemotherapy.
The ASM was conducted by TROG Cancer Research, one of the largest cancer clinical trials groups in Australia and New Zealand. The organisation has launched over 80 trials involving more than 13,200 patients to date, with its projects highly regarded in the international field of cancer research. TROG’s 28th ASM will be held from March 14-17, 2016 in Brisbane.
Katie Vullo is Communications Officer at TROG Cancer Research.
Images: Joerg Lehmann