The EORTC Quality of Life (QOL) course, Quality of Life, Symptom Research, and Patient Reported Outcomes in Cancer Clinical Trials, 25-27 November 2009, Brussels, was attended by over 230 participants from 40 different nationalities. The course offered a comprehensive program with representative views from 33 international QOL experts.
Prof. Françoise Meunier, EORTC Director General, delivered the opening remarks to an audience that included representatives from major cancer groups, such as the NCIC (National Cancer Institute of Canada) and SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group,) as well as representatives from regulatory bodies and the pharmaceutical industry. The presence of these many experts contributed to the high quality of the sessions; the organization and flow of the sessions made it possible for all participants to interact.
Dr. David Collingridge, Editor, The Lancet Oncology, commented, ‘The quality of speakers was excellent, and many talks stimulated food for thought as evidenced by the large number of questions from the floor. I left the symposium with a much richer picture of the issues surrounding quality of life in the cancer setting and found the intellectual level of content to be of a high standard.’ Dr. Galina Velikova, St James’s Institute of Oncology, Leeds, remarked, “It was also excellent to be able to say ‘and the answer to your question is in the Osoba paper from 1998’, and to have the opportunity to ask the author to clarify things in his paper.” For his part, Dr. David Osoba, QOL Consulting, said, ‘Interest from the 250 participants was very high with excellent questions for the presenters and a high degree of interaction between them. Several participants remarked to me, in conversation, that they were very pleased with the content of the course and the high degree of enthusiasm of the presenters. They felt that they had benefitted from attending.’
Dr. Andrew Bottomley, course organizer and chair, said, ‘This is the first time that the EORTC has been able to put on such a major QOL event and present new EORTC results of a key QOL research program, funded by the Pfizer Foundation. This also allowed us to have key opinion leaders with different perspectives gather for an intensive interaction about the key challenges faced in implementing QOL and symptom and psychosocial research into international cancer clinical trials. To me, the success of the meeting was being able to integrate the audience into a constructive debate about the pressing issues we currently face.’
When asked if the EORTC would hold another meeting of this nature, Dr. Bottomley said, ‘It is a huge undertaking, but it is very evident that there is a need to bring cancer researchers with an interest in QOL together. So, yes, over the next year I would hope that the EORTC can begin planning our second of what may turn out to be many such events. This current course was made possible in part by the generous support of the Pfizer Foundation. This demonstrates that academics and industry Foundations can work together to attain a better understanding of the impact of treatment on patient QOL and improve cancer patient QOL.’
There remain a great many challenges in improving cancer patient QOL, and meetings like the EORTC QOL event are a clear way of imparting a greater understanding of such complexities.
EORTC, Medical Science Writer