The Neuro-Oncology Group provides the opportunity for scientific and clinical communication between several different groups interested in aspects of the management of brain tumours.
Basic science, epidemiology, and the management of adult and paediatric brain tumours are the main terrain. The group also has an interest in brain metastases and the management of other CNS tumours such as spinal cord tumours; along with the management of cord compression.
Members of the group come from diverse backgrounds including neurosurgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology, neurology, neuropathology, social work, nursing, basic science, palliative care, rehabilitation medicine, neuropsychology and psycho-oncology.
This embraces the management of CNS tumours in a multidisciplinary framework – now internationally recognised as the standard of care for patients with cancer.
One of the main aims of the Neuro-Oncology Group is to cross discipline boundaries, not only in clinical care, networking and educational initiatives but also importantly to encourage both clinical and laboratory research (working closely with the neuro-oncology cooperative trials group COGNO). Advocacy for our brain tumour patients is also important. We have affiliations with BTA (Brain Tumour Alliance), IBTA (International Brain Tumour Alliance, which is chaired by an Australian- Denis Strangman) and Cancer Voices.
Chair: Dr Eng-Siew Koh (radiation oncologist, NSW) 2011-present
Deputy Chair: Dr Kate Drummond (neurosurgeon, VIC) 2006-present
Dr Anna Nowak (medical oncologist, WA)
Dr Meera Agar (palliative care specialist, NSW)
Dr David Walker (neurosurgeon, QLD)
Dr Kevin Patterson (medical oncologist, SA)
Dr Gail Ryan (radiation oncologist, VIC)
Ms Laraine Cross (social worker, NSW)
Past Chairs: Dr Elizabeth Hovey (medical oncologist, NSW) 2006-2010
The COSA Neuro-Oncology Group meets face-to-face principally during the COSA Annual Scientific Meeting, together with the main members who organise the detailed program in the host city where the meeting is being held each year. Many members of the Neuro-Oncology Group are also members of other sections of COSA and frequently also members of other international groups and societies. The groups also meet at the biennial GLIOMA conference or at the COGNO ASM.
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COSA neuro-oncology members are participating in a working party (chaired by Dr Michael Rodriguez) for the RCPA (Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia) on a Structured Reporting Protocol for Central Nervous System Tumours.
There is a working party (chaired by Professor Michael Barton) of various COSA Neuro-Oncology members who are working with the Australian Cancer Network on developing a set of Consumer Guidelines on the Management of Adult Gliomas to complement the recently launched clinical guidelines.
Having had a recent successful NSW Brain Action Week in May 2010 (coordinated by the NSW Cancer Institute Neurooncology Group) we are hoping to work towards holding a national Australian Brain Tumour Action Week in the near future, hopefully in 2011.
The highlight of 2009 was the joint COSA and COGNO ASM at the Gold Coast. We had a stellar line up of international guests including Professor Roger Stupp (medical oncologist of Stupp protocol fame, visiting from Switzerland), Prof Normand Laperriere (radiation oncologist, visiting from Princess Margaret Hospital in Canada, and Dr Renato Laperriere (medical oncologist from Kentucky, USA). There were neuro-oncology sessions which stretched throughout the entire three-day program ranging from sessions on behavioural challenges in brain tumour patients, sessions on brain metastases, cancer and the brain, and a plenary session on High Grade Glioma to the translational research sessions held during the COGNO satellite ASM. (Thanks to the working committee and the COSA Executive).
Members of the COSA Neuro-Oncology group contributed strongly to the development of consensus guidelines: “Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of adult gliomas: astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas”, under the auspices of the Australian Cancer Network, an affiliate of COSA. The guidelines (Chair: Professor Michael Barton, Convenor: Emeritus Professor Tom Reeve, Project Officer: Dr Elizabeth Hovey along with a large Working Party) were launched around Australia at the COSA ASM on the Gold Coast in 2009. Thanks to those of you who have contributed your time and expertise to this (both developing content and reviewing the document). Thanks again to Steven Newton who donated the money for the development of these guidelines in memory of his wife Valerie Newton.
The neuro-oncology community (spearheaded by the COSA Neuro-Oncology group) was successful in late 2007 in receiving funds from Cancer Australia to set up a National Neuro-Oncology Trials Group which was named COGNO (Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology). COGNO is chaired by Prof Mark Rosenthal (who was the Inaugural Chair of the COSA Neuro-Oncology group 2004-2006), with Deputy Chair Professor John Simes; and Secretary Dr Elizabeth Hovey along with very active Scientific Advisory and Management Committees and membership of over 180. This national group co-ordinates national research and is a liaison point for international clinical trials and also national initiatives such as AGOG (Australian Genomics and Outcomes of Glioma). Currently COGNO has recently opened CATNON (addressing the role of the Stupp protocol in patients with anaplastic astrocytoma). National investigator studies are soon to open in the setting of recurrent GBM (one study investigating the benefit of an angiogenesis inhibitor; and another study investigating a potential steroid-sparing approach). Membership of COGNO is free so contact Jenny Chow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AGOG is a consortium between centres around Australia (starting with Western Australia and NSW) incorporating tissue banking, genomics and a clinical database. The original PI was Professor Lyle Palmer (genetic epidemiologist), but having transferred to Canada - he has handed on the reins to Prof Anna Nowak and Dr Kerrie McDonald along with a very active group of affiliated chief and associate investigators including medical oncologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, neuro-radiologists and neuropathologists.
The COSA Neuro-Oncology group will continue to encourage funding for trainees to attend neuro-oncology learning opportunities, for example, the Hubert Stuertzl International Travelling Scholarship (Schering-Plough sponsorship) which was launched in 2006.
We will explore using our new COSA website as a way for clinicians to get advice on difficult case scenarios, for example, medulloblastoma/pinealoblastoma/choroid plexus carcinomas. Visit the Neuro-Oncology group forum to start or participate in a discussion. Each discussion can have its own thread and title.
Likewise, if you have an electronic resource that is of interest to the group, it can be posted on a Neuro-Oncology group resource page. Contact COSA to do this.
The national group also has commenced the difficult job of advocating/lobbying locally and federally for:
- Funding for national neuro-oncology clinical care co-ordinators.
- Federal funding for young patients who require nursing homes.
- Federal subsidies for families caring for patients at home.
In 2009 Cancer Council NSW hosting a meeting in NSW of key neuro-oncology stakeholders including charities, scientists, clinicians, allied health members, consumers etc to form an active alliance. Hopefully this alliance will become national in the not too distant future (modelled on the successful existing Australian Breast Network).
Finally, and most importantly, for the national group to have an impact, we need financial members. Please consider joining COSA (and nominating neuro-oncology as one of your interest groups so you receive the relevant e-correspondence). If you are currently a member, please renew your membership if you haven’t already done so. If you have any suggestions or queries please contact us.