SIOG 2018 Annual Conference: Becoming Mainstream Cancer Care Print Email

Geriatric Oncology: Becoming Mainstream Cancer Care
International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) Annual Conference

December 2018

The 18th Annual Conference of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) was held on November 16-18 in Amsterdam, with a theme of “Geriatric Oncology — Becoming Mainstream Cancer Care.” The SIOG Annual Conference is the world’s leading conference for health professionals involved in the treatment of older adults with cancer. SIOG promotes a multidisciplinary approach to the practice of geriatric oncology and meetings always include speakers from diverse fields. This year’s conference was attended by 523 participants, the highest attendance yet, representing 41 countries. Attendees included oncologists, researchers, clinical practitioners, geriatricians, radiologists, psychologists, nutritionists, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as senior cancer survivor advocates.

The Conference paid special attention to demonstrating its global commitment to the overall objective of promoting universal health coverage and sustainable development goals, envisioning a stronger health workforce for older adults with cancer. SIOG is committed to working with global partners and encourages contributions to improve the alignment of its geriatric oncology priorities with the needs and priorities of health institutions working for older adults with cancer.

A. Davies and C. SteerThis year’s conference also focused on the best ways for clinicians to apply available research and clinical information in assessing and treating older cancer patients and featured five program tracks: Solid Tumors; Hematological Malignancies; Supportive and Palliative Care; Modern Diagnostics and Therapeutics; Geriatric Assessment, Nursing & Allied Health, and Patient Care. Track leaders include MASCC members Melissa (Kah Poh) Loh, MBBCh, Martine Puts, RN, PhD, Carla Ripamonti, MD, Armin Shahrokni, MD, MPH, and Ishwaria Subbiah, MD, MS.

The conference also included a MASCC/SIOG Joint Session: “Supportive Care in Older Adults with Cancer in 2018: What Does It Look Like?” This session, chaired by Andrew Davies, MD, and Christopher Steer, MBBS, FRACP, included the following presentations:

  • Early Integration of Palliative Care in Older Adults with Cancer. Andrew Davies, MD, FRCP (UK)
  • What Is the Role of the Nurse in Supporting Older Adults with Cancer? Annie Young, RN, PhD (UK)
  • Supportive Care Vs. Geriatric Oncology Care. What is Different, What is Common? Gilbert Zulian, MD (Switzerland)
  • Do We Need a Subspecialty of Geriatric Supportive Care? Christopher Steer, MBBS, FRACP (Australia)

The 2019 SIOG Annual Meeting will be held in Geneva, Switzerland. The dates will be confirmed soon.

Letter from Christopher Steer, MBBS, FRACP

The SIOG Annual Conference remains the key international meeting for experts in the field to share their research and expertise. This year, the conference was held after the publication of the ASCO Guidelines recommending geriatric assessment in all older adults being considered for chemotherapy. The ASCO meeting in June also featured the presentation of a key randomized controlled trial, by Supriya Mohile, MD, confirming that geriatric assessment improves communication about age-related health concerns (1).

Many of us in the field share the opinion that geriatric oncology is "all about supportive care" and that interventions guided by geriatric assessment should form the cornerstone of the management of all older adults with cancer. This personalized approach was certainly the dream and the goal of former SIOG President, and our colleague, mentor, and friend, Arti Hurria, MD, who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident on November 7th, one week before the SIOG conference.

The death of Arti Hurria stunned the global geriatric oncology community and, at the meeting in Amsterdam, we mourned our loss and commemorated her unparalleled leadership and dedication to the field. As another global leader in geriatric oncology, Supriya Mohile, MD, stated in a commemorative speech, “Arti is irreplaceable, but now we will all need to come together and work hard to continue her legacy." The global oncology community will feel the loss of Arti Hurria for years to come, but her death has galvanized those of us in the field to realize her vision and improve the care of all older adults with cancer. While we know that “supportive care makes excellent cancer care possible,” it is the mantra of those working in the field of geriatric oncology that “adequate assessment yields appropriate treatment.”


Christopher Steer, MBBS, FRACP, is a medical oncologist at Border Medical Oncology, Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre in Albury, New South Wales, Australia. He is currently Chair of MASCC’s Geriatrics Study Group and a member of our Information and Communications Committee.

  1. Mohile SG et al. Improving communication with older patients with cancer using geriatric assessment (GA): A University of Rochester NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) cluster randomized controlled trial (CRCT). University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY.