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EAU(N)19 bladder cancer sessions very well attended

I was both grateful and honoured to have been awarded an EAUN travel grant which enabled me to attend the 20th Annual EAUN Congress in Barcelona (ES).  Before leaving Ireland, I had downloaded the EAUN conference app and populated my calendar with events I wanted to attend.

With over 300 sessions in total between the EAU and EAUN, I had to make some tough decisions between interesting sessions.  There were, however, a number of sessions that I felt were essential to attend.  As my own role is focused on the management of patients with bladder cancer, I was committed to attend sessions such as the Thematic Session #3 Bladder Cancer Special Interest Group (SIG) on Saturday 16 March, and the inaugural meeting of the World Bladder Cancer Coalition on Monday 18 March. In this piece, I hope to have summarised and integrated a snap-shot of some of the information I have learned.

Interest in bladder cancer

Bladder cancer is the 9th most common cancer worldwide, it is one of the most expensive cancers to treat because of arduous treatment and surveillance schedules and high rates of recurrence, and has a detrimental impact on patient’s biopsychosocial wellbeing.  However, its profile is low, the level of research funding it receives is paltry at around 1%, and as a consequence very little has changed in new treatment options in more than 20 years.

I noticed that the EAUN19 bladder cancer SIG session appeared to have one of the highest attendance rates of delegates at all the EAUN19 sessions I attended, and the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) event was also very well attended.  This highlights the fact that healthcare professionals are interested both to increase their knowledge about the condition, promote awareness, influence political policymakers, and advocate for both patients and support groups with the ultimate aim of improving patient outcomes.

Bladder Cancer SIG

The Bladder Cancer SIG session was titled ‘Past, Present, and Future Perspectives’ and Mr. Raj Nair, Consultant Urologist from Guys Hospital London (UK), delivered an excellent overview of the 10 top facts about intravesical BCG in 2019. Some of the take-home messages to improve tolerability of intravesical BCG included: starting treatment longer than 2 weeks after TURBT; use a reduced dose; one-year maintenance is almost as good as three years, which is important if patients are not tolerating the schedule; use anticholinergics, steroids, or oral quinolones (more than six hours after treatment) to reduce side effects.

Elke Rammant, PhD Researcher, Ghent University (BE), presented her work on the unmet research needs of bladder cancer patients highlighting gaps in psychosocial care, the role of exercise, and on psychosexual counselling interventions.

Anna Munk Nielsen, RN, Trials Coordinator, Aarhus (DE), highlighted the important role and use of collected human biological material in bladder cancer research and how it can be incorporated into personalised medicine to target specific treatment in individual patients. In the future we should be able to offer the right treatment to the right patient at the right time.

Inauguration World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition

The final session that I attended at this year’s congress was the World Bladder Cancer Patient Coalition (WBCPC) inaugural meeting which was live streamed on twitter.  While Ireland has an excellent national cancer charity in the Irish Cancer Society, like many other countries, it does not have a dedicated bladder cancer charity.  Representatives were present from bladder cancer support and advocacy groups from the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, and others, as well as individual healthcare professionals representing their country (Ireland amongst them) and looking to support and be involved in the initiative. While their aim is to create a strong global voice for bladder cancer patients, they also have a very ambitious goal of establishing national chapters in countries which do not yet have dedicated bladder cancer support networks. The enthusiasm at this meeting was palpable, and with collaborators present lending support and advice such as the International Kidney Cancer Coalition, this initiative is sure to be a success which will bring tangible benefits to bladder cancer patients. I would urge anyone working with patients diagnosed with bladder cancer, to encourage them (both themselves and their patients) to engage with the WBCPC and get involved to raise the profile and improve the outcomes for bladder cancer patients.

Finally, I would highly recommend anyone interested in attending an EAUN meeting to apply for the travel grant via the EAUN website to support attendance at a future meeting.

Robert McConkey, Advanced Nurse Practitioner candidate (Bladder Cancer), University Hospital Galway, Galway (IE),