The 25th AGITG Annual Scientific Meeting was held for the first time in Aotearoa New Zealand and attended by over 350 delegates from oncological practice, community and industry.

Held in Ōtautahi/Christchurch on 13–16 November 2023, this year’s ASM focused on the theme ‘Navigating Pathways to Equity in GI Cancer Research’, intended to address the pressing need to extend access and increase equity to therapeutic options across regional, rural and remote areas, as well as culturally diverse and First Nations populations.

Read on for our overview of the 2023 Meeting – or listen to The Oncology Podcast‘s wrap-up episode, featuring Co-Convenor Dr Ben Lawrence and International Invited Faculty A/Prof Katherine Garman.

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#AGITG23: Day Three

Wednesday, 15 November 2023

Keynote breakfast

The Wednesday program kicked off with the popular keynote breakfast session, featuring Prof Bishal Gyawali on the role of clinical trials for equity in GI cancer, and Prof Parry Guilford on building equity into the design of GI cancer research.

Advanced upper GI and HPB cancer

Thank you to Bayer for sponsoring this session.

Trials showcased: INTEGRATE IIa/IIb, ASCEND, PALEO, GENESCREEN 5-FU

Abstract presented: Histopathological correlation with Magnetic Resonance (MR) Imaging from MR-simulator and MR-Linac in oesophageal and gastric cancer – Su Chen Fong

Attendees then entered into a session focussing on advanced upper GI and hepatobiliary cancer. A/Prof Louise Barbier presented lessons in equity from HCC liver transplants, followed by Prof Rob Ramsay’s talk on MDM. Prof Niall Tebbutt presented his medical oncology keynote address, Managing Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer in the Era of Precision Medicine – Current Practice and Future Directions, followed by an MDT on three palliative-intent UGI/HPB cases.

 

Special interest breakout sessions

After a brief morning tea, delegates had the option of choosing between three special interest breakout sessions.

Management of advanced biliary cancers

Thank you to AstraZeneca for sponsoring this session.

The first breakout session was a spotlight on management of advanced biliary cancers, offering new insights into pathways to improving care.

Treatment of early-stage oesophago–gastric cancers

Thank you to Bristol Myers Squibb for sponsoring this session.

The second breakout session focussed on treatment of early stage oesophago–gastric cancers in the era of immunotherapy, including discussions on current guidelines, individiualising treatments, and a real-world case.

Partnering with patients to impact cancer care

Abstract presented: Using computer adaptive testing to assess quality of life in cancer clinical trials – Brendan Mulhern

The third breakout session focussed on partnership with patients to impact cancer care, with the intent to foster insightful dialogue and patient-centred perspectives on cancer care. Speakers highlighted a screening experience, teletrial programs and drug access.

Following a hearty lunch, Prof Stephen Ackland led another poster viewing and discussion walk.

New Concepts: Looking to our future

Thank you to AstraZeneca for sponsoring this session.

Trials showcased: OXTOX, STOPNET, NABNEC, CONTROL NETS TR

The day progressed into a session on new concepts, opening with Dr Kimi Hēnare’s presentation reflecting on the Meihana Model in clinical trials, followed by the always-popular New Concepts Symposium. International Invited Faculty members were invited to review the following concepts:

  • i-BOXOFFICE: Immunotherapy – Biliary neoplasm, OXaliplatin, Fluorouracil, Folinic acid, nal‐Irinotecan ChemothErapy for late / advanced tumours A randomised, phase 1b study – Andrew Dean
  • PIPAC: FOLFOX and nivolumab combined with Pressurized intraperitoneal aerosol chemotherapy: Phase 2 trial in advanced gastric carcinoma – Tim Price
  • Randomised Phase III Trial of personalized versus standard dosing of 5-fluorouracil in first line chemotherapy for metastatic colorectal cancer – Alex Flynn

A/Prof Katrin Sjoquist then presented on the Cancer Australia Genomics Cancer Clinical Trials Initiative (GCCTI).

Regional, Rural and Remote Outstanding Site Award

During this session, the Regional, Rural and Remote Outstanding Site Award was presented to Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Cancer Centre, NSW.

“Through the dedication of our teams, we have been able to exceed expectations for recruitment to AGITG clinical trials. We’ve increased the number of clinical trials we offer by tenfold and provided access to new treatments for more than 100 patients last year,” said Prof Lorraine Chantrill, the Centre’s Director of Clinical Trials.

“None of this would be possible without our team of dedicated young oncologists and committed staff members.”

Read the full article on the RRR Outstanding Site Award.

Advanced colorectal cancer

Trials showcased: VADER, RESOLUTE, ALT-TRACC
with review by Prof Leonard Saltz

Abstract presented: GPX2 loss sensitises colorectal cancers to radiotherapy and chemotherapy – Natalia Vukelic

The last session of the day focussed on advanced colorectal cancer saw Dr Hēnare’s talk on Māori involvement in cancer genomics research, followed by Prof Vicki Whitehall delivering her translational research keynote talk, New Approaches to Enhancing Immunotherapy Efficacy for KRAS Mutant Colorectal Cancers.

During this session, three awards were presented.

Metropolitan Outstanding Site Award

The Metropolitan Outstanding Site Award was given to St John of God Subiaco Hospital.

“We endeavour to treat our patients in a holistic manner, not only focusing on the physical symptoms. We are truly grateful that the AGITG recognises our efforts and philosophy to cancer care,” said Dr Tara McSweeney, the clinical trials registrar at SJOGSH.

Read the full article on the Metro Outstanding Site Award.

Christine Aiken Memorial Award

The Christine Aiken Memorial Award for Excellence in Study Coordination was awarded to Kate Hunter. “I’m deeply honoured to receive this award and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the TOPGEAR study,” said Kate.

Read the full article on the Christine Aiken Award.

Early Career Researcher Award

The Early Career Researcher Award was presented to Dr Dmitrii Shek. “I’m committed to advancing both medical understanding and patient well-being,” said Dr Shek.

“I’m also determined to actively engage in teaching and mentorship, fostering the growth of the next generation of professionals over the next five years.”

Read the full article on the Early Career Researcher Award.

Gala Dinner

On Wednesday evening, delegates were also invited to attend the ASM Gala Dinner. Highlights from the event included a friendly social debate and a speech from AGITG CEO Russell Conley, who recently returned to work following treatment for anal and rectal cancer. Several awards were also presented on the night.

Member Fundraiser of the Year

A/Prof Andrew Dean was awarded the AGITG Member Fundraiser of the Year, on behalf of his patient, Chris Reichstein.

“As Chris’ condition became more advanced, he decided to turn to his philanthropy, setting up funds and increasing health awareness amongst rural and remote Australians,” said A/Prof Dean.

Read the full article on the Fundraiser of the Year Award.

AGITG–Merck Fellowship in Clinical Research

Dr Julia Freckelton was named the 2024 AGITG–Merck Fellow. She will be taking on her fellowship at the busiest GI oncology clinic in the UK at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

“I certainly hope to come back with some more skills and knowledge as a clinician oncologist, but also to develop skills in research and continue to participate in research – both domestically but also hopefully overseas,” said Dr Freckelton.

Read the full article on the 2024 Merck–AGITG Fellow.

Innovation Grant

The winner of the 2023 Innovation Grant was announced to be Dr David Liu for his concept OMEGCA, or Multi-Omics Evaluation of Peritoneal Fluid in Gastroesophageal Cancer: A prospective trial to develop a sensitive assay to detect clinically occult peritoneal metastases. The certificate was presented to Dr Nick Clemons on behalf of Dr Liu.

“OMEGCA seeks to develop and validate an accurate molecular test to detect microscopic spread of stomach cancer in the abdominal cavity,” said Dr Liu.

“We hope that our findings will inform patient counselling, treatment decision-making and design of future therapeutic clinical trials.”

Read the full article on the 2023 Innovation Grant winner.

John Zalcberg AO Award for Excellence in AGITG Research

The 2023 John Zalcberg AO Award for Excellence in AGITG Research was awarded to A/Prof Haryana Dhillon for her outstanding contribution to GI cancer.

“The fact that my nomination came from Jan Mumford, a long-standing consumer advocate with the AGITG, was particularly moving,” said A/Prof Dhillon.

“I really value the insight people with lived experience bring to the research being undertaken, and to have my involvement recognised by Jan was very special.”

Read the full article on the John Zalcberg Award.

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