Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Trip, Another Conference

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 14th annual meeting of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society in London. This was the kind of medical conference I like the most. It was small, with ample opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world. More importantly, the presentations were first rate, and I learned a lot from my time there.

CTOS, as the group is called, has grown dramatically in the past few years, both in numbers and in the quality of the research. My first CTOS meeting, two years ago in Venice, was smaller and many of the papers presented were good… but not great. This year, there were 30% more attendees, and the quality of the work presented has improved dramatically as well.

CTOS is truly an international and interdisciplinary organization, embodying what I believe is truly necessary for the advancement of care for patients with sarcomas. The organization has members from Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and the Middle East. Sitting in the same conference room listening to the same presentations were radiologists, surgeons, orthopedists, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, pediatric oncologists, pathologists, nurses, and patient advocates. These interactions, across international boundries and across the boundries of medical disciplines, are vital for progress in caring for patients with rare diseases.

My favorite session captured that spirit perfectly. Entitled “Bone Sarcomas 2 - Surgery and Molecular Biology,” this session included talks on surgical techniques for rebuilding limbs after resection of large tumors as well as two talks on the application of cutting edge molecular biological techniques to understanding the biology of these tumors. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything quite like that.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so I managed to spend some time sightseeing. It was typical London weather – overcast, misty, and cool, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Next year? Miami!

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