Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, COSA



Executive Officer

ASM 2013

The 40th COSA Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) was held in Adelaide from 12-14 November. The theme for the conference was ‘Cancer Care Coming of Age’, focusing on the emerging field of geriatric oncology. The disease theme was gastro-intestinal cancers. 

Attended by over 850 delegates, the program featured 10 international and 41 local invited speakers and included a broad range of multidisciplinary sessions, presentations from opinion leaders and discussion of key issues in cancer management. 

The opening plenary ‘The burden of cancer in the elderly’ set the scene for a stimulating conference by defining the problem of cancer in the elderly.

Epidemiologist, Dr David Roder, opened the plenary, highlighting some of the statistics. The proportion of cancers diagnosed in people aged ≥75 years will increase two to three fold over the next 30 years and risk of death will increase three to four fold. Also, the complexity of the disease will rise with increases in comorbidity and loss of living independently. Professor Harvey Cohen from Duke University defined what geriatric oncology is and how the two specialities of geriatrics and oncology could come together to help older people with cancer, as well as the need for survivorship plans for this population. The session closed with an address from ex South Australia Health Minister, John Hill, who discussed the impact of a growing health budget, and the need for rationalisation of services bringing evidence into current clinical practice.

The 2013 Tom Reeve Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cancer Care was awarded to Professor Ian Frazer AC, at the conference dinner on Wednesday night. Best known for his work on the HPV vaccine, Professor Frazer delivered an outstanding oration on the impact of his work, the development of skin cancer vaccines and the importance of a good work/life balance.

The COSA Presidential Lecture on Thursday was delivered by Professor Ian Maddocks, renowned palliative care physician and Senior Australian of the Year 2013. Professor Maddocks drew upon his experiences in New Guinea to reflect on the process of dying with dignity and the importance of cultural aspects of grieving. His talk highlighted the challenges health professionals face due to our ageing population and the increased burden of cancer on our community. His message was clear – listen to the elderly and engage with the aged.

ASM 2014

The 41st COSA ASM will be held in conjunction with the Union for International Cancer Control World Cancer Congress in the first week of December 2014, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. The COSA ASM will run Tuesday 2 to Thursday 4 December, and World Cancer Congress 4 to 6 December, with Thursday 4th being a joint day. Discounts are on offer for people registering for both events. 

The theme for COSA’s 41st ASM will highlight cancer survivorship, supportive care and palliative care – all important areas of interest for COSA members, and hopefully will also prove attractive to World Cancer Congress delegates. COSA’s disease theme in 2014 will be lung cancer and metastases. We anticipate that the Australasian Metastases Research Society will hold a satellite meeting on Monday 1st December 2014, and encourage their delegates to attend the COSA ASM on Tuesday 2nd December when the clinical aspects of metastases will be covered. 

Visit for more information.

Leadership in improving cancer control 

In December, COSA released two important position statements on single nucleotide polymorphisms testing, and the safe handling of monoclonal antibodies. 

In collaboration with the Human Genetics Society of Australasia, The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, COSA released a position statement regarding the role of single nucleotide polymorphisms testing for personalised breast cancer risk prediction. The position statement recommends testing should only be undertaken after an in-depth discussion led by a clinical professional familiar with the implications of genetic risk assessment and genetic testing, including the potential insurance implications.

The COSA Cancer Pharmacists Group released a position statement on the safe handling of monoclonal antibodies in healthcare settings. A comprehensive literature search was undertaken to identify published information in the area of safe handling of monoclonal antibodies. Input was sought from members of COSA and the Cancer Nurses Society of Australia and incorporated in the final document.

Both position statements are available on the COSA website 

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