Urology and oncology specialists came together in London on the 26th–27th January to discuss new developments and controversial topics at the 3rd National Renal and Bladder Cancer conference. Around 80 specialists attended each day including surgeons, oncologists, radiologists and scientists.
An important theme linking many speakers’ presentations across both days was personalized cancer treatment, and how knowing more about patients’ individual genetic information will lead to tailored treatment and improved patient care. Mr Tim O’Brien from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust opened discussions with an interesting presentation about how patient care is currently managed for renal cancer, and how we should move towards personalized medicine in the future. Dr Athena Matakidou from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute continued with this theme by describing recent efforts to sequence the genes involved in renal cancer. In addition, Dr Nav Vasudev discussed CAGEKID, an internationally collaborative project aimed at clinically characterizing the genetic changes that occur in patients with renal cancer, which should lead to more individualized treatment in the future.
Prof Margaret Knowles kicked off the sessions on the second day with a discussion of the genetic biomarkers for bladder cancer and how they could be applied to predict patients’ responses to different treatments. Dr Tom Powles summarized recent and ongoing clinical trials for bladder cancer, highlighting the unique LaMB trial, which is the first to take into account patients’ genetic information for bladder cancer treatment.
A controversial topic in bladder cancer treatment is whether surgery or radiotherapy should be used as first-line therapy; Prof Nick James outlined the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and discussed the importance of selecting patients who are likely to respond well to radiotherapy. An interesting debate involving many specialists followed, with some preferring surgery and others believing that radiotherapy should be given in the first instance. Mr Shamin Khan described a recent advance in surgery for bladder cancer, robotic cystectomy, which helps to reduce patient recovery time after the operation and could soon be used in hospitals across the country.
The conference highlighted how recent progress in identifying genes associated with both renal and bladder cancer will be translated into personalized treatment in the future. We should look out for exciting developments in validating genetic and protein biomarkers in the clinic, and eagerly await the results of the landmark LaMB trial.