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Conference will update doctors on cancer breakthroughs

Top physicians from cancer research institutes will meet next week to collaborate and discuss cancer breakthroughs and emerging trends in multidisciplinary care.

Physicians representing the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute at USF, Shands Cancer Center at the University of Florida and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami will join other top physicians across the country at the eighth annual Joint Cancer Conference of The Florida Universities from Feb. 5 – 8 at the Walt Disney Resort in Lake Buena Vista. The theme of the conference is “Translating New Knowledge into New Therapies” and reflects the mission of all three academic cancer centers, which is bringing science from “bench to bedside.”

“The meeting is a general symposium,” said Claire Modarelli, a medical meeting planner at Moffitt and the coordinator of the conference. “It’s basically to update community physicians on what clinical studies have come to closure, what new drugs that might be coming out on the market to help their patients and new diagnostic techniques.”

This year’s keynote speaker at the conference will be retired Florida Senator Connie Mack. Mack is the chairman of the board for Moffitt and is a cancer survivor himself. Mack was treated for melanoma at Moffitt.

One of the hot topics this year at the conference will be genomics. Genomics is therapy that specifically targets certain types of cells, in this case cancer cells. This type of therapy uses treatments that attack specific cells in the body without killing off healthy cells that the body needs.

One of the types of targeted therapies that will be discussed at the conference is antiangiogenesis, a type of therapy that tries to destroy tumors by cutting them off from the nutrients they need.

“They basically cut off the blood supply to the tumor. If it’s not given the nutrition it needs, it dies,” said Modarelli.

Another type of therapy that will be discussed is the use of new types of drug cocktails in chemotherapy. Physicians will discuss the use of new drugs in different dosages and different combinations to help patients suffering from cancer. Two specific drugs that will be discussed are Avastin, which is used for gastrointestinal cancer, and Taxotere, which is used to treat breast cancer.

One of the features of the conference is a discussion session on what is new in cancer care. This year the subject of two of the main sessions is colorectal cancer, as there have been some developments in new drug therapies.

Prior to the conference, there will be a pre-conference workshop on ethical and complex issues in cancer care that will cover such topics as ethics, side effects of cancer treatment in children, controlling infections and pain management. One of the topics that will be discussed which will be of particular interest to Florida residents is the effect of the malpractice insurance crisis on cancer care.