Symposium boosts concept of 'interventional oncology'

December 28, 2005

A special Interventional Oncology Symposium held at the RSNA meeting in December confirmed tumor ablation’s status as an accepted and growing therapy. The symposium, cosponsored by the RSNA and the Society of Interventional Radiology Foundation, drew standing room-only crowds to presentations about ablation and embolization methods, new technologies, and the basic science behind interventional oncology.

A special Interventional Oncology Symposium held at the RSNA meeting in December confirmed tumor ablation's status as an accepted and growing therapy. The symposium, cosponsored by the RSNA and the Society of Interventional Radiology Foundation, drew standing room-only crowds to presentations about ablation and embolization methods, new technologies, and the basic science behind interventional oncology.

"The presence of this symposium, the existence of it, is a demonstration of critical mass," said Dr. Gerald D. Dodd III, RSNA Scientific Program Committee chair. "It is recognition that ablation and the other therapies in minimally invasive interventional oncology have come to the forefront as a mainstream therapeutic choice for patients with cancer."

The symposium and the response it received bolster the case for interventional oncology as its own specialty, Dodd said.

"Our belief is that it will become as recognized as a specialty, akin with medical oncology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology," Dodd said. "The term actually fits quite well, since it explains what we're doing to a great extent and places it solidly within those major specialties. I think that the presence of this symposium is an indication that interventional oncology has matured into a specialty."

At past RSNA conferences, interventional oncology has been covered on a piecemeal basis, with papers and scientific abstracts on the topic often being presented at the same time in different parts of the convention center. The 2005 forum minimized those conflicts and allowed physicians to get a broad view of the emerging and established procedures that make up interventional oncology.

Over four and a half days, the symposium covered cutting-edge treatments for liver, kidney, lung, and bone lesions, as well as imaging techniques, follow-up procedures, new probe technologies, and combination and adjuvant therapies.

Attendees and presenters praised the organizers for consolidating the information in one place.

"I haven't seen rooms so jammed and enthusiasm like that in any other session in RSNA for years," said Dr. Fred Lee, a professor of radiology at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. "In the past, the RSNA has had a very unfocused approach to interventional oncology, which probably reflected the unfocused nature of the specialty. It's a very timely topic, and people's enthusiasm and skills are matching the progress in science."

Part of the reason for the enthusiasm is the spate of concrete results becoming available, said Dr. William Lees, director of the Centre for Medical Imaging at University College Hospital in London. The five- and six-year survivability data that are emerging help prove that ablation is an effective treatment.

The symposium featured 10-minute "How I do it" sessions, in which some leading lights of tumor ablation shared their practical experience with those new to the procedure.

"The 'How I do it' portions really bring the technology to the people who want to do it," said Dr. Robert D. Suh, director of thoracic interventional services and the radiology training program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "It's a fantastic concept to have an up-and-coming area in interventional radiology featured as a major symposium at the largest meeting, not a specialty meeting."

The presentations helped bring home the message that interventional oncology as a whole, and tumor ablation in particular, continues to evolve. Much of the emphasis in both the practical sessions and the scientific presentations was on what's coming next.

"Any new modality, any new therapeutic technique has a maturation curve," said Dodd. "At this point we do not have the best device yet, or the last ones."

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