ANZSA Newsletter - December 2020
In this edition, we share with you exciting updates on our ANZSA ASM 2020 | Clinical Trials | Sarcoma Awareness Month | National Sarcoma Database
Message from the CEO of ANZSA
With COVID-19 cases stabilised across Australia and New Zealand which resulted in easing of restrictions, the Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association (ANZSA) continues to operate in this ‘new normal’ and our research and clinical trials remaining as a priority.
The last six months have been eventful, where we held many big events such as our first virtual Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), Annual General Meeting (AGM) and July Sarcoma Awareness Month.
We are encouraged by the number of sarcoma research studies being developed with our local and international partners. Even in this challenging environment, we look forward to an active research agenda and many new studies opening in 2021. As the National Sarcoma Database has matured, we are able to ask and answer many questions regarding sarcoma treatment patterns and outcomes in Australia. We are encouraged by the recent interest in utilising this resource by our members.
Furthermore, we have also formed a Sarcoma Guidelines working group to create three Australasian Sarcoma guidelines. You can read more about it below.
Looking at the year we have had, we are grateful that ANZSA is in a fortunate position to progress our goals and vision, albeit with some minor disruption. We are thankful that the sarcoma community (clinical specialists, researchers, consumers, etc.) stuck together in unity to ensure that our clinical trials and research goals were met.
We hope you will continue to support us in the work we do. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a wonderful 2021!
Dr Denise Caruso | CEO of ANZSA
Virtual Annual Scientific Meeting 2020
While it was unfortunate that we were unable to organise a face-to-face Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) this year due to COVID-19, we held our first virtual ASM via Zoom Webinar this year.
It was a great success and we hosted over 250 local and international delegates over two days (8th and 9th October). This year’s ASM theme was “Sarcoma: What’s New in 2020”.
This year, we had our inaugural “The Professor Martin Tattersall Lecture”, delivered by Dr Angelo Paolo Dei Tos, Professor of Pathology, University of Padua School of Medicine and Director, Department of Pathology, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria di Padova, Italy.
This plenary lecture was named in honour of the late Prof Martin Tattersall AO, whose work and leadership was crucial to ANZSA and the sarcoma community.
Dr Paolo’s lecture titled: “What's new in 2020 (WHO classification of soft tissue tumours)” provided an update on the classification of sarcomas followed by a panel discussion with pathologists from Australia and New Zealand.
The second day of the ASM saw Dr Kristy Weber, the Chief of Orthopaedic Oncology at Penn Medicine and the Director of the Sarcoma Program at the Abramson Cancer Center, USA, and the first woman president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), spoke on “Kids, dogs, lesions, and lumps: Current challenges and future directions in sarcoma”.
Throughout the two ASM days, we had local sarcoma specialists from various disciplines and researchers providing updates in the field of their expertise on the challenges and advancement of sarcoma diagnosis and treatment.
We thank all our ASM sponsors, organising committee, speakers and delegates (local and international) for making this first virtual ASM a success.
Sarcoma Guidelines Working Group
ANZSA is currently working on updating and refreshing the Sarcoma Guidelines for clinical practice using NHMRC and GRADE methodology to ensure high-quality guidelines based on current evidence. A working group is represented by a multidisciplinary team of sarcoma specialists and consumers to provide a comprehensive systematic review of the evidence for each topic on the guideline topics.
Database Working Group
A Sarcoma Database Working Group (DBWG) was formed in Q1 2020 after a constructive discussion at the preceding Scientific Advisory Meeting, acknowledging the importance of committed driving force behind database-related projects and research output.
This group consists of five medical oncologists, one surgeon, one radiation oncologist and four data managers from four sarcoma referral centres in Australia. The group will meet quarterly to generate research questions to build into multi-site study and to track the progress of active studies.
As the sarcoma data from seven sarcoma services across five states and territory mature, many more opportunities will arise to generate patient-centred evidence on oncological care that can better guide treatment decisions and policies.
ANZSA Clinical Trials and Research
It is encouraging to see that most sites have resumed clinical trial recruitment and that new research studies are being developed and are in the process of approvals. We have three ongoing clinical trials, two clinical studies and one database project open for patient recruitment:
- SARC032 – A Phase II randomised controlled trial of neoadjuvant pembrolizumab with radiotherapy and adjuvant pembrolizumab in patients with high-risk, localised soft tissue sarcoma of the extremity. Open for recruitment across three sites in Australia.
- NORTH – A Phase II study of panobinostat in paediatric adolescent and young adult patients with solid tumours including osteosarcoma, malignant rhabdoid tumour and neuroblastoma. This clinical trial is funded by the NH&MRC and jointly run with ANZCHOG. It is now open for patient recruitment in 15 sites across Australia.
- rEECur – International randomised controlled trial of chemotherapy for the treatment of recurrent and primary refractory Ewing sarcoma. This clinical trial is funded by a grant from CanTeen and is now open for patient recruitment in both adult and paediatric sarcoma centres across ANZ. It is now open for patient recruitment in 15 sites across Australia.
- ISKS – The International Sarcoma Kindred Study: a global multi-site prospective cancer genetics study. This project aims to establish an international database and biospecimen repository to be used as a clinical and research resource. It is now open at five sites across Australia.
- SMOC+ – A surveillance study utilising whole-body magnetic resonance imaging and other surveillance procedures in people with germline cancer gene mutations to investigate the prevalence and incidence of investigable lesions. It is now open at six sites across Australia.
- RESAR – Retroperitoneal Sarcoma Registry (RESAR): a prospective collection of primary retroperitoneal sarcoma patient's clinical, radiological and pathology data for the TransAtlantic Retroperitoneal Sarcoma Working Group. It is now open at two sites in Australia.
For more details about the projects or want to be involved in the patient recruitment process, write to us firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sarcoma.org.au/projects.
July is Sarcoma Awareness Month
July was a busy month for ANZSA as we organised many initiatives in conjunction with Sarcoma Awareness Month. Our webinars topics on clinical trials, managing practical issues, and survivorship issues were well received by health professionals and consumers alike. Similarly, Dr Denise Caruso, ANZSA CEO, was interviewed by Rare Cancers Australia and the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation to raise awareness for sarcoma and ANZSA. We are thankful to our partners and all who participated.
Listen to them here.
Vale Professor Martin Tattersall AO
Lastly, we were saddened by the passing of our friend, mentor and colleague – Prof Martin Tattersall AO. Prof Tattersall was a founding Board Director and member of ANZSA (then known as ASSG). It was his vision to bring together the adult and paediatric sarcoma researchers around Australia and New Zealand to improve the outcomes of patients with sarcoma.
Prof Tattersall’s work will continue to influence sarcoma care in Australia and globally. His desire to ensure progress in sarcoma biology and treatments, including paediatric types, ensures he is recognised as a holistic sarcoma pioneer for all.
To honour Prof Tattersall’s incredible contribution to sarcoma research and care, ANZSA has named the plenary lecture at our ASM The Professor Martin Tattersall Lecture.
You can read our tribute to Prof Tattersall here.
National Sarcoma Database – November 2020
ANZSA supports sarcoma data collection at major sarcoma treatment centres across Australia through the ACCORD sarcoma database. This allows collection of de-identified information such as diagnosis, treatment and outcomes on patients diagnosed with sarcoma and related tumours.
The primary goals of the sarcoma clinical data collection are:
- To ensure the maintenance of high-quality clinical data relevant to sarcoma diagnosis and management.
- To encourage collaborative research using sarcoma data to better understand the real-world practice of sarcoma management in Australian.
ANZSA members are eligible to utilise the information from the ACCORD sarcoma database. We have recently published a simplified guide of how to access sarcoma data as collected on ACCORD. Expression of interest in using the database for studies and research purposes are welcome and should be directed to ANZSA’s data manager, Jasmine Mar (email@example.com).
Site Contributions to Sarcoma Database - November 2020
To access all the data we have, please log in to our Members Portal. You must be an ANZSA member to be able to log in. If you’re interested in joining us, please apply as a member today - sarcoma.org.au/pages/membership
Thank You, Donors and Supporters
We want to thank all our generous donors for their significant contributions and donations towards sarcoma research throughout the pandemic. The sarcoma community is made up of individuals, groups, organisations and philanthropic trusts that partner with us by donating your time, energy and funds, especially during COVID-19, and we cannot be more grateful for this support. Every dollar helps and is invested in high-quality sarcoma research to find a cure and improve outcomes.