Researchers and health practitioners from all over the world gathered in Amsterdam in September for the ninth meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group, writes JHMRF trustee Kate Hill, who attended on our behalf. The four-day programme was intense with parallel sessions running from 7.30am until well after 6pm. A wide range of topics was covered with lectures from internationally renowned leaders in mesothelioma, some of which prompted stimulating discussions and debates on controversial topics.
The scientific sessions provided opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and ideas between doctors and scientists who presented their work. Medical experts described epidemiological studies and reported on trials of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A day was dedicated to surgeons in collaboration with the European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgeons, featuring updates on three trials of surgery: MARS (to which the JHMRF has contributed), MesoVATS and the EORTC study. The prospects of improving survival in mesothelioma using surgical techniques were discussed at length.
Basic science studies described how mesothelioma cells develop and discussed the biochemical and immunological approaches to treating it. Progress in the immunological study currently funded by the June Hancock Fund was presented by Dr Saly Al-Taei, the research fellow working with Dr Zsuzsanna Tabi at the Velindre Hospital, Cardiff University. Dr Al-Taei was questioned on aspects of her presentation by Professor Bruce Robinson from Australia. Responses to the work from the audience were very positive.
Linda Reinstein had travelled from the USA for the meeting. She spoke about her personal experience of caring for someone with mesothelioma, and about the work of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organisation that she founded. Her talk was a moving reminder to the assembled professionals that mesothelioma has a devastating impact on the families it affects. (For more information on this organisation visit www.AsbestosDiseaseAwareness.org)
Conference sponsors, the Dutch Asbestos Awareness Organisation (Asbestslachtoffer Vereniging Nederland) were represented by president Leon Widdershoven and ambassador Yvonne Waterman. Their organisation also kindly hosted a trip on a canal boat on one evening which gave the conference delegates a welcome break from the rigorous schedule of the meeting.