• Category Marryalyan
  • DATE 29 May 2024


May 2024

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The next exciting event in the society’s calendar is the society’s 25th Annual Scientific Meeting in Melbourne from August 29th to 31st, 2024 held at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. The meeting “Collaboration to redefine the Landscape for Head and Neck Cancer Care” is convened by Head and Neck and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr Kevin Nguyen. Kevin and his organizing committee have put together an excellent program with a range of fantastic international keynote speakers from the US and the UK.

The Melbourne ASM will be excellent with renowned keynote speakers Professors Dave Fuller, Hisham Mehanna, Renata Ferrarotto and Heather Starmer from MD Anderson, Birmingham and Stanford. There will also be two pre-conference courses on offer with an international faculty, Dr Ashish Patel on “Delivering a Jaw in a Day”. Dr Patel was part of the team who first described this technique in 2013. The Chris O’Brien oration will be given by Professor June Corry who is a former president of this society and well-known head and neck radiation oncologist.

The early bird registration for the Melbourne ASM closes on Sunday 21 July 2024 (https://surgeons.eventsair.com/anzhncs24/registration)The meeting registration fee is significantly reduced for members of the society as a financial benefit to join as a member of the ANZHNCS and to attend the meeting in Melbourne. We are also waiving the new joining fee for new members who both join the society AND attend the ASM as a paid registrant (the annual membership fee will still apply).

Benefits of being a member of ANZHNCS

Society members receive free access to webinars as part of their membership. The first webinar for our members is on March 20ththe role of surgery in the management of advanced NMSC in the era of effective systematic therapies” by the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and Melanoma Institute Australia.

Our second webinar this year was held on April 18th . The webinar  “Psychological Distress in Oncology Care: the Sixth Vital Sign” convened by our executive committee member Tracey Nicholls with invited speaker Professor Suzanne Chambers PhD, AO. Professor Chambers is a health psychologist and registered nurse with over 30 years’ experience in psychology and oncology.

The other benefits for being a member of the society are as follows: educational component with free webinars and access to previously recorded webinars for active members, reduced fees for attending the ASM, our advocacy (meetings and submissions to government) in promoting quality care for all head and neck cancer patients, the big connection with your colleagues in the head and neck cancer space and an opportunity for grants and prizes by trainees, medical students, nurses and allied health and the Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship. Your funds also help provide grants to support head and neck clinicians visiting from developing nations and pay subscriptions for cancer society’s such as COSA and IFHNOS.

A new initiative supported by the society is funding a society member to attend the Australia and Asia Pacific Clinical Oncology Research Development (ACORD) workshop from 22-27 September 2024 in NSW. Rebecca Venchiarutti, from the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse was successfully selected in the competitive process to represent the society. ACORD is a 1-week protocol development workshop providing mentorship and focussing on early career researchers to develop high quality clinical research. We look forward to hearing more of Rebecca’s research outcomes from attending ACORD. Dr Julia Crawford, the society’s recipient of the Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship, is an ENT Robotic Head and Neck Surgeon from NSW who will be travelling to the US later this year to visit centres specialising in high volume robotic head and neck cancer surgery. This visit is aimed to foster academic and professional relationships, exchange of knowledge and participate in a scientific meeting in the US.

Our future annual scientific meetings will be as follows: Adelaide from August 29th to 31st, 2025 (note it will be a Friday to Sunday meeting) with pre-meeting workshops. The keynotes speakers have been invited and the theme of the 2025 meeting will be “Shaping the Future of Head and Neck Cancer Treatment”.  The next “big meeting” in 2026 combined with IFHNOS will be held in Brisbane from 26th to 30th August and will attract over a thousand delegates.

There are several important points I wish to highlight regarding the work the executive committee have been doing to achieve the society’s goal to promote quality care for all head and neck cancer patients since we formed in 1998.

In my last message in December, one of the key gaps we identified in head and neck cancer treatment, especially in the public health system, is a lack of sufficient preventative and special needs dental care and dental rehabilitation. This gap creates inequity in care especially for our vulnerable patients.

Advocacy with promising news for head and neck cancer services

We provided a written submission with patient testimonies to a select committee for the provision of and access to dental services in Australia. Their report has recently been released and several recommendations were made which will be tabled in the senate for the Federal government to consider. The two key recommendations in the report for head and neck cancer are:

Recommendation 8

The committee recommends that the Australian Government considers commissioning a study into:  the impact of cancer and cancer treatment on dental and oral health and the need to provide coverage for oral health treatment, including restorative services for cancer survivors, including survivors of head, neck and oral cancers.

Recommendation 9

The committee recommends that the Australian Government reviews the Medicare Benefits Schedule with a view to improving the accessibility of oral health treatment, including restorative services, for cancer survivors, including survivors of head, neck and oral cancers.

Other great news for patients was the media release last year from the Department of Health and Aged Care regarding funding to provide Specialist Telehealth Services and a Cancer Patient Support Program. Nadia Rosin from Head and Neck Cancer Australia (HANCA) has kindly been in contact with me and members of our executive committee to discuss these opportunities and “to help inform the delivery of the delivery of the Specialist Telehealth Service and possible initiatives to seek funding for as part of the Cancer Patient Support Program”. These will be competitive grants for cancer patient support groups (i.e. HANCA) to submit a grant application. Members of our executive committee Tracey Nicholls, Merran Findlay, and Aoife McGarvey will represent the society in discussions with HANCA.

The government has also announced funding for 100 new All-Cancer Nurses. They have chosen the McGrath Foundation to roll out the Cancer Nursing Service. This is great news for cancer patients and the advocacy that HANCA and the ANZHNCS are doing for head and neck cancer. The society provided a written submission to the Australian Cancer Plan back in March 2022. It is pleasing to see that some of our recommendations were part of this announcement. Collaboration is much better than working in silos if we want to achieve the best care for our patients.

Our society was approached by the Department of Health and Aged Care MRI working group on rare cancers for representation from our society. Eric Khoo from our executive committee has been appointed to this committee which is examining the MRI benefits for head and neck cancer.

Please visit our website (www.anzhncs.org) and follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook for the latest updates and photos.

World Head and Neck Cancer Day (WHNCD) is July 27th, 2024. There will be a range of activities held around Australia to recognise and promote awareness of the devastating effects of Head and Neck Cancer during the week of WCHNCD.

Professor Eng Ooi
President of the ANZHNCS