Always remain curious: cancer and IME
Who here has been affected by cancer? Perhaps you have friends that have had it, perhaps relatives, or perhaps this is something that has deeply affected you. According to Macmillan Cancer Support estimates, “there are currently 3 million people living with cancer in the UK” , with this projected to rise to 5.3 million by 2040. Rare cancers account for roughly 22% of all cancers diagnosed worldwide, but alarmingly (for me at least) I discovered that “38% of all cancer cases are preventable” .
As I embark on the development of my latest IME project ‘Precision medicine advances in thyroid cancer’, it got me thinking about my own recent run-in with cancer. My Father in-law recently passed away with stage 4 lung cancer and, not too long after that, my father was diagnosed with an incurable (but treatable) form of cancer known as Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia – a rare form of blood cancer affecting only 4 in one million. Following a six-month course of chemotherapy, my father now has good (partial) remission and the care and treatment he received was absolutely first class. We might sit here and say “gosh, he was lucky”, but through my work with Springer Healthcare IME, and in collaboration with leading experts in the field of precision medicine, I am astutely aware of the volume of work that goes into the development, testing and approval of new therapies, and I know that little of this was down to luck at all…
In 2019 the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) was published, which set out “strong ambitions and commitments” to “improving cancer outcomes and services in England over the next 10 years” . This plan pledged that “by 2028, 55,000 more people each year will survive their cancer for five years or more; and by 2028, 75% of people with cancer will be diagnosed at an early stage (stage one or two)”  where a cure is still possible. Ambitious plans like this require solid education to be made available for healthcare professionals at every stage of the patient pathway, so that change can be integrated into daily practice. This is where Springer Healthcare IME step in. Our expert-led programmes delve into specific disease areas, and provide education underpinned with details of recent drug approvals, guideline recommendations and information on new and targeted therapy options in a bid to keep healthcare practitioners up-to date in a continually evolving field.
One such programme currently in development is “Precision medicine advances in thyroid cancer: translating clinical evidence into practice.” In collaboration with leading expert Laura Fugazzola, we have created a dedicated multi-channel program showcasing real-life case studies, drawing on evidence-based guideline recommendations, and novel treatment options in thyroid cancer. This programme consists of a recorded and chapterised webcast and five short and informative vodcasts covering topics such as resistance mechanisms of targeted therapies, how to select a first-line treatment and the long-term safety of targeted therapies. Over the coming months we will also be adding two interactive case studies to the mix, one covering the management of advanced radioactive iodine (RAI)-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer and the other focused on the management of advanced medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). After participating in the programme our learners should be able to identify patients with tumour types that may harbor actionable molecular alterations, debate recent advances in thyroid cancer management and importantly, integrate new precision medicine approaches into their clinical practice, supporting the earlier diagnosis and effective treatment of patients with thyroid cancer, to improve patient outcomes.
In 2022 alone Springer Healthcare IME launched 19 new programmes across 11 different therapy areas, engaging 36,000 learners worldwide. I am extremely proud to be a small part of these commitments to improving patient outcomes, of advocating education and shared expertise, and of championing growth and curiosity in a landscape that is ever evolving. So, coming back to my Father’s diagnosis and treatment, he really wasn’t “just lucky”, he was seamlessly carried through a system where his carers were specialist trained, well versed in the treatments that he required, and abreast of the latest technologies and drugs required to help him. Considering the launch of my latest project in thyroid cancer, I ask you to forward this programme (or this blog) to anyone you feel may benefit from reading it, because in the right hands, this programme (or one of our many others) may just save a life! And on a final note, in the famous words of my father, a retired Headmaster, “always remain curious and never stop learning.”
 “macmillan.org.uk,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/dfsmedia/1a6f23537f7f4519bb0cf14c45b2a629/9468-10061/2022-cancer-statistics-factsheet
 “Cancer Research UK,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk/preventable-cancers
 “NHS Cancer Strategy,” [Online]. Available: https://www.england.nhs.uk/cancer/strategy/