Published on November 10, 2017


Herbert Spencer, Essays, “The Genesis of Science,” Vol. ii, 1.

Quotation in the Library of Congress


The Annual Congress of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology, or SIOP as we know it, is not a conference you normally associate with teenage and young adult cancer care. However, on reading through the programme for this year’s congress (available on a very interactive App or handy print booklet), what was revealed was a growing interest in this area with over 40 abstracts with the words ‘adolescent’, ‘teenager’, ‘young adult’ or ‘young adults’ in the title. Teenagers and young adults – or as we were in the USA, Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA), were specifically mentioned on issues we frequently see in practice and read in the literature for example fatigue (Abstract 0-189 Hooke et al p101) and fertility (Abstract 0-123 Caltabellotta et al p112) and were also mentioned in work on broader themes such as psychological assessment (a huge interest for this conference), survivorship (Abstract P-558 Anis et al p420) and decision-making (Abstract 0-200 Pyke-Grimm et al p106). Of particular interest was the paper describing collaboration between Unite2Cure and Accelerate, seeking to remove the ’18 year age of entry dogma to clinical trials’ (Abstract 0-143 Scobie, Copland p79). The need for more interventions was acknowledged in many of the presentations. It was refreshing to see the growing use of creativity not only in interventions – Apps for patient education and pathway management, virtual reality and interactive video games for distraction during procedures. But there was also creativity in data collection and dissemination of research findings.

One of the many joys of SIOP, apart from the chance to visit the beautiful cities who host the event, has always been the collaboration, networking and joint working with European and increasingly North American colleagues – for example this year there was a decision-making workshop, hosted by Kathy Kelly (USA) and Faith Gibson (UK). Recent additions to the programme have become very popular, such as the Young Investigators Network (allegedly for those under 40 years of age!), and the increasingly successful Psycho-Oncology programme that threads through the main programme.

You can’t be in Washington and not mention politics; even the Opening Ceremony was political thanks to a great satirical performance from The Capitol Steps : one of the most entertaining and relevant opening addresses for some years. In the search for free sweets and a decent cup of coffee in the exhibitor’s hall The SIOPE Strategic Plan: A European Cancer Plan for Children and Adolescents was re-discovered. Teenagers and young adults and the commitment to an integrated programme in partnership with child and adult oncology across Europe are stated. In a crowded and uncertain political agenda, the need to initiate and continue initiatives to ensure cancer in young people is considered if not at the top of the health and research policy agenda is needed, and requires action from us all.

Two events Louise Soanes took part in the pre-conference programme showed how nurses in clinical practice could do this. The first was a workshop for nurses working in low-middle income countries to write and delivering an elevator speech. This is a succinct way, in the time it takes to ride an elevator (lift), to get a proposal across to someone of influence – covering what you’re doing, why, and what you want people to do. These were written in preparation for the implementation of the Pediatric Oncology in Developing Countries (PODC) in their country/region – it’s harder than you think, but we should all have one ready on a subject we’re passionate about.

The other was the amazing advocacy and leadership skills of Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology Nurses (APHON) as they criss-crossed Congress lobbying sixteen representatives on a series of Acts that had a direct impact on patient care and nursing pay.


Quotation in the Library of Congress


Authors: Prof. Faith Gibson (Workstream 1 Lead) and Dr Louise Soanes (Honorary BRIGHTLIGHTER and Teenage Cancer Trust Nurse Consultant, UCLH)



[Click here to access the SIOP 2017 abstracts]