Some 50 people attended the event, which was open to the public and held at the Marriott Hotel in Zurich, to hear about the latest findings from research into the third most common type of cancer in Switzerland. The event was facilitated by freelance journalist Marianne Erdin.
Renowned oncologists and surgeons spoke on a range of subjects, including medicines and new approaches to the treatment of colorectal cancer, the role of surgery and risk factors. One patient spoke of the remarkable journey that his efforts to get the disease under control had taken him on.
Dr. Andreas Wicki, MD, PD, Dr. phil. from Baselland Cantonal Hospital opened the event with an introductory talk on the anatomy of the intestine, how intestinal tumors form, and the stages in and risk factors for colorectal cancer. As part of his presentation, he discussed screening and prevention in detail. One interesting fact to emerge from his comments is that a healthy diet tends to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease rather than the risk of cancer. Similarly, proof has been found that obesity increases the risk of cancer.
Prof. Viviane Hess, MD from Basel University Hospital gave a fascinating presentation on three specific innovations in colorectal cancer treatment. For example, we now know that under certain circumstances it is possible to achieve a similarly good outcome with a three-month course of chemotherapy after successful surgery as it is with a six-month course. This has the major advantage of fewer side effects. The second finding is that tumors have a different genetic structure depending on whether they form on the left or right side of the intestine. Personalized treatment is therefore essential because tumors of this kind respond differently to drug treatment. Prof. Hess finished by summarizing the current state of immunotherapy research.
Prof. Markus Weber, MD, Dr. h.c. from Triemli Hospital talked about the role of surgery in the treatment of colorectal cancer. This is how he summed up the treatment options for intestinal and rectal cancer: “Complete surgical removal is the only treatment capable of curing intestinal cancer.” Prof. Weber explained the various bowel resection surgery options for the different tumor locations and drew attention to the possible associated complications.
Cancer patient Conradin Döbeli closed the event by talking about his remarkable experiences on his courageous journey to recovery. He encouraged patients to get to grips with and explore their disease as much as they can and presented www.colontown.org, an online community for people affected by colorectal cancer.
Following the success of the event, the SAKK Patient Advisory Board will be organizing another such public event in May 2020, during the SAKK semi-annual meeting. Follow us on our website: https://www.sakk.ch/en/events
About the SAKK Patient Advisory Board: SAKK set up the Patient Advisory Board in 2015 with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the experiences and needs of cancer patients and their families and using this information to inform SAKK research projects. The SAKK Patient Advisory Board supports SAKK by advising it on research projects, communications or strategic affairs.