Sometimes, you’ve just got to keep it simple. I’ve just spent the last few days at the Prostate Cancer UK Forum in Baltimore, which we’ve co-hosted with world-leading cancer specialists Johns Hopkins University.
Keeping the forum simple is what makes it the success it is. We invite the world’s leading prostate cancer clinicians and researchers, throw them into a room for three straight days to give these specialists from across the whole spectrum of the prostate cancer field the chance to meet, share ideas, and work together on future projects. It’s that simple.
Many conferences focus purely on presenting results and highlighting the work of individual endeavour. The forum focused on discussion, and breaking down barriers through collaboration. Day one of the forum focused heavily on risk, screening and the basis of prostate cancer; Day two brought the conversation around to diagnosis and prostate cancer that hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. On day three the talk was all about metastatic disease, particularly focusing on hormone therapy, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.
One of the most common phrases I’ve heard has been ‘That sounds like a great idea, we should talk some more.’ This is what the forum is all about – stimulating conversation and building links between researchers and clinicians to better serve men with prostate cancer. There have been a number of vigorous discussions on many topics – particularly on screening and the use of biomarkers like PSA – but these disagreements and clashes often result in conversations that lead to greater understanding and collaboration. It’s been a pleasure to listen to all these discussions and see the world’s top researchers and clinicians coming together with the sole aim of making a better future for men with prostate cancer.
This year, we’ve also been asking our researchers and clinicians the provocative questions you’ve been asking us. I liked the question asked by Roy, which was answered by Dr Gert Attard from the Institute of Cancer Research: Does treating the whole patient rather than the cancer alone improve outcomes?
‘I think it’s definitely important not to just treat the cancer, but the person as a whole. With hormone therapy for prostate cancer, this approach has been going on for decades, where the patient’s age, fitness and other medical conditions are all taken into account. A holistic approach can be very beneficial.’
I’d like to thank Professor Bill Nelson, who with Dr Ted DeWeese and their colleagues from Johns Hopkins, helped host what has been a very successful event. I’m in no doubt that the discussions and conversations that have come out of the Forum will lead to collaboration in research that will benefit generations of men to come.