The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) has become an unmissable event on the calendar of Australian professionals involved in all aspects of cancer care, as evidenced by record attendance in Melbourne in November, at the new Convention Centre.
Almost 2000 people participated in the various pre and post-meeting symposia and workshops, as well as the main scientific program centered on the theme ‘Cancer and Beyond’.
Innovations in 2010 included the inaugural trainee workshop ‘Everything you need to know about breast cancer’, where the COSA philosophy of multidisciplinary care was reinforced using the model of multidisciplinary education, an innovation of our COSA President Bruce Mann. Trainees from medical, radiation and surgical oncology, as well as nursing and allied colleagues, had a packed program of lectures, multidisciplinary clinics and ‘Meet the Expert’ sessions. A spaced education research program was attached to this event.
COSA has gained greatly in the past few years from partnering with relevant organisations during the meeting. Combining the 2010 meeting with the ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group was highly successful, as was the partnership with Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.
Highlights of the main meeting included such varied activities: as the well recognised Australian author, Helen Garner, reading from her novel The Spare Room in the ‘Focus on Carers’ session; the launch of the Australian Neuroendocrine Tumour Guidelines; the discussion on ‘survivorship’ issues of sexuality, workforce, nutrition and ‘starting over’; and the sessions dedicated to cancer pain, mental health and cancer, safety in cancer care delivery, just to pick out a few.
Our international faculty was of the highest quality, and despite many suffering long trips due to the A380 aeroplane crisis, their contribution was exceptional, from the singing and dancing breast surgeon Mark Kissin, to the practical and reassuring palliative care specialist Sara Booth, the fascinating and challenging Isabel White and the authority and charm of breast cancer experts Edith Perez, Anne Partridge, Mark Robson and Rowan Cheblowski. The many other international guests were equally as impressive and greatly valued by the audience. As the author of this report and the conference convenor, may I indulge and say that my favourite plenary talk was that of our supportive care guest Matt LoScalzo, discussing how we should value the resilience of patients and families and celebrate their achievements and coping skills, rather than solely focusing on unmet needs and burdens.
Our national speakers proved that Australian research and clinical practice is on par with world’s best. The quality of the invited presentations was matched by that submitted through the abstract process. The COSA Annual Scientific Meeting is now recognised as a significant meeting in which the presentation of new data and major research projects is competitively assessed. Both the oral and poster sessions were of a very high standard, and the multitude of prize winners (with thanks to our award sponsors) recognised work of major importance across all fields.
The conference dinner was a time to relax after long days of learning and discussion, and enjoy entertainment from our ‘COSA’s Got Talent’ competitors, as well as the 2010 Tom Reeve Oration, delivered by John Forbes. The inaugural Presidential lecture gave the audience a chance to hear from one of Australia’s most prominent and pioneering translational researchers, Professor Donald Metcalf. The final event of the conference, the ‘Hot Topic’ debate, chaired by media personality Adam Spencer, pitched prevention against treatment in a hilarious yet thought provoking session.
My thanks as convenor go to the organising committee and to all those who contributed and attended, as well as our record number of corporate sponsors. I particularly would like to acknowledge the unwaivering support of Marg McJannett and Bruce Mann. The 2011 ASM is on track to continue to deliver excellence in a forum that is comprehensive, stimulating, varied and seemlessly integrated across our multiple disciplines – everything that COSA stands for as it grows from strength to strength.