#ANZUP21 ASM Summary

ANZUP Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) 17-18 October 2021

So once again, in view of COVID-19, our #ANZUP21 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) took the format of a two-day hybrid event working with local hubs and an interactive virtual meeting platform. With a superb line up international and national faculty, over 400 delegates heard the latest in GU cancer treatment and research, as well as existing and planned ANZUP trials.

The program kicked off with our Nurses and Allied Health session chaired by Kath Schubach and Natasha Roberts. The virtual workshop was attended by ~140 participants and featured updates on nurse-led research. It was followed by a panel exploring the challenges faced when undertaking nursing research, and potential pathways to engage with research, either as contributors or leaders. A fireside chat between Haryana Dhillon and CAP member Colin O’Brien provided us with insights into his experience working with ANZUP members to take a new idea to the prostate cancer concept development workshop and the process of bringing a consumer-led question to fruition as a research study.

We saw the return of the ever-popular Multidisciplinary (MDT) Masterclass skillfully convened by Carole Harris. The short, sharp cases across prostate, renal cell carcinoma, penile and testicular cancer stimulated excellent discussion and “chat” between the expert panelists and attendees. Each session endeavoured to educate the audience with real-life clinical challenges and interactive polling.

On the Sunday afternoon ANZUP hosted a ‘virtual’ welcome drink which entrée the first of our fabulous international symposia. The theme ‘Clearer Vision’ chaired by Bertrand Tombal saw excellent presentations from Chris Parker, Heather Payne and Alison Birtle.

Chris spoke about ‘How MRI became the mainstay of active surveillance’ and discussed watchful waiting based on data “from the last century”.

Heather Payne followed with her insights into ‘The trials and tribulations of managing men with metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer.’

The final presentation of the day came from our very own Alison Birtle, ‘Wishful thinking’ in genitourinary oncology. She provided us with her expert insight on optimal therapy for systemic therapy in upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC).

Day two of the ASM began with another stellar line up of international guests. Led by Professor Chris Sweeney, medical oncologist from Dana-Farber Cancer Centre, we heard from Dr Eli Van Allen, Professor Matt Galsky and Associate Professor Sima Porten to discuss personalised medicine and their vision for the future of genitourinary oncology.

Dr Allen, a medical oncologist and computational biologist also from Dana-Farber, gave a stunning talk regarding the convergence of machine learning and genomics. He began by discussing the rapid evolution of the technology and the challenges in clinical interpretation. Using algorithms developed by his team, Dr Allen showed a path forward to streamline the implementation of genomics into routine care of patients with GU cancers in the future. 

To follow, Professor Galsky a medical oncologist at Mount Sinai, described the evolving treatment landscape for metastatic urothelial cancer. He highlighted the significant advances in the last few years with the introduction of immune checkpoint inhibitors and targeted therapies for patients with urothelial cancer. Running through some of the seminal trials, he demonstrates the importance of personalising treatment recommendations upon both patient and tumoural factors and provides optimism for the future.

Finally, Associate Professor Porten, a urologist at UCSF, discussed advances in molecular classification of muscle-invasive urothelial cancer to explain the biologic and clinical heterogeneity that we see in the clinics. Utilising contemporary sequencing to define gene expression profiles, she explained differences in basal and luminal subtypes and how this is important in recommending treatment and defining prognosis. She impressed upon the delegates the importance of embedding biomarkers into future prospective trials in urothelial cancer to further develop this space.

The ANZUP Symposium, chaired by Haryana Dhillon, brought together a panel who shared work they are doing to address ‘Disparities in Cancer Care’ with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Gail Garvey, presented on “What do we know about survivorship needs of Indigenous people in Australia?” This gave a marvellous insight into how Indigenous people in Australia experience cancer care. Daniel Lindsay followed with an update on his research, “Out of pocket costs of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people with prostate cancer,” generating much discussion about potential causes of these differences. Finally, Dorothy Keefe shared with us “What Cancer Australia is doing to improve cancer outcomes in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people” showcasing a range of resources now available to support cancer care health professionals working with Indigenous people.  Dorothy encouraged the audience to consider what they could do to help address these disparities, suggesting starting by asking people if they are Indigenous in our daily practice. Only then can we link people to Indigenous health supports better able to meet their needs.

The Subcommittee Chairs/ Deputy Chairs provided delegates with an entertaining and comprehensive summary of our current ANZUP Trial, as well as “what’s happening” in terms of our pipeline of studies. Ray Allen, CAP deputy chair, also highlighted the work of our ever enthusiastic and hardworking CAP.

The second half of the day included a virtual poster discussant room expertly chaired by Declan Murphy and Lucinda Morris, the Below the Belt Research Fund Awards and finally the Best of the Best awards. Congratulations to all our winners!

The final session of the ASM was an entertaining crossfire debate, ‘No time to lose: to improve survival we can’t wait for data on overall survival’, given by Associate Professor David Pryor and Associate Professor Dave Pook. Dr. Pook argued the affirmative, that waiting for overall survival data is unnecessary, potentially harmful and there are other surrogate endpoints that are important for patients. Dr. Pryor countered that we must wait for overall survival as there is not always a clear line of site [from surrogates] to a worthwhile OS benefit. He also argued that in addition, there needs to be improved quality of life and the treatment needs to be cost-effective.

Once again, this year’s convening committee did an amazing job to bring another high quality, world-class, educational, inspirational, and captivating “virtual” program to our members and key stakeholders. We particularly thank Nick Brook, Lisa Butler, Ian Davis, Haryana Dhillon, Amanda Hutchinson, Dickon Hayne, David Pryor, Natasha Roberts, Kath Schubach, Henry Woo, Leonie Young, Sally Sara, Shomik Sengupta and Andrew Weickhardt as well as our MDT Masterclass conveners Carole Harris and Nicky Lawrence. A big thank you also to the ANZUP team, and our conference organiser Sarah Dixon, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the virtual meeting flowed seamlessly.

We are also extremely grateful to our Sponsors for their ongoing support of ANZUP and our ASM. We also acknowledge Cancer Australia who provide infrastructure funding to support ANZUP and our ASM.

Andrew Weickhardt, our 2022 Convener, closed the 2021 ASM encouraging everyone to “Save the Date” for next year’s meeting, 10 – 12 July 2022. He extended an invitation to those members interested to join the convening committee to help plan what we anticipate will be the “Best Ever” face to face get together in Adelaide!