Recapping our largely attended gastrointestinal oncology conference

The Binaytara Foundation (BTF) held the Advances in Gastrointestinal Cancers conference on March 28, 2021, via Zoom video conferencing. This meeting had a turnout of 157 healthcare professionals, which included 97 people from the United States and 60 from other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Mexico, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the UK.

“I think it was a fantastic event because the topics that were presented gave GI oncologists a, high-level overview of the currently evolving fields,” Dr. Arparna Parikh, a medical oncologist and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University, shares. “I think having these kinds of expert-guided talks on how they are interpreting the data is fantastic.”

The conference was divided into four sessions and provided CME credits to participants. The first was on gastroesophageal cancers and had presentations from Dr. Daniel Catenacci (University of Chicago) and Dr. Joseph Chao (City of Hope). The second session was on hepatobiliary cancers with talks from Dr. Ghassan Abou-Alfa (Sloan Memorial Kettering), Dr. Bhawana Sirohi (Apollo Proton Cancer Center), and Dr. Rachna Shroff (University of Arizona). Presentations on pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine tumors were given by Dr. Eileen O’Reilly (Sloan Memorial Kettering), Dr. Andrew Coveler (University of Washington), and Dr. Aman Chauhan (University of Kentucky). Finally, colorectal cancers were covered by Dr. Axel Grothey (West Cancer Center), Dr. Sakti Chakrabarti (Medical College of Wisconsin), and Dr. Aparna Parikh (Harvard University).

“I expect participants to receive an overview of the recent advances and update their knowledge on the latest treatment protocols of various GI cancers,” Dr. Sakti Chakrabarti, a medical oncologist, associate professor of medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin, co-chair for BTF education committee, and moderator for this event, said. “I hope that helps them with their day-to-day clinical practice.”

Our conferences provide physicians a comprehensive platform to get up-to-date information in their specific field. With the plethora of medical information that is released daily, from manuscripts to abstracts, it is challenging for providers to stay on top of that alongside their day-to-day responsibilities. Dr. Joseph Chao, a medical oncologist and assistant clinical professor at the City of Hope, shares that he uses social media to stay informed by his colleagues. He also noted that such conferences provide a good place to network and share different viewpoints on highly debated topics.

Our conferences have a large global audience, which includes providers from low-to-middle-income (LMIC) countries. With this meeting, we wanted to ensure that this target audience and their challenges were addressed from a talk by Dr. Bhawna Sirohi, who presented on genomic testing for biliary tract cancers.

“Genomic testing is very expensive and still out of reach for most LMICs,” Dr. Sirohi explains. “Next-generation sequencing is pointless if patients can’t afford or have access to the recommended drugs, and we have not clearly demonstrated its benefit. Interpreting results is a challenge in practice because very few mechanisms transfer from lab to clinic in a meaningful way, so we need to practice evidence-based medicine and not eminence-based medicine.”

Nonetheless, our large global turnout suggests that regardless of their limitations in access to diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, physicians from all over the world are looking to stay informed and aware.

“I don’t think we should limit knowledge sharing because of current access issues,” Dr. Parikh shares. “If access and equity are the goals, I think knowledge sharing is a powerful tool to empower.”

This event was largely popular on social media, with over 64,000 impressions on Twitter and over 1,000 engagements. Our conferences bring together global leaders and aim to direct lectures on day-to-day oncology challenges that are globally relevant. To join future conferences and gain access to lectures from this event, please visit education.binayfoundation.org.

The Binaytara Foundation aims to improve healthcare in resource-poor communities and improve cancer care worldwide by educating healthcare providers and community members, advocating for better access to care, and innovating program models and services that improve access to cancer care. Binaytara Foundation’s charitable projects include a bone marrow transplant center in Nepal, hospice and palliative care programs in Nepal and India, and the establishment of a cancer hospital in Southern Nepal. For more information on our projects, visit binayfoundation.org.

We are a non-profit dedicated to improve cancer care globally through education, advocacy, and innovative programs