Monaco is the ideal location to welcome back one of the first medical conferences of the year, focused on an issue of fundamental importance at the heart of the scientific studies around the world for many years. The 15th Monegasque Cancer Biennial held at the Grimaldi Forum under the High Patronage of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, from the 26th until the 29th January 2022 made the point on the different therapeutic techniques in oncology, pharmaceuticals and haematology. The paramount convention, under the umbrella of the Centre Scientifique de Monaco and the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace de Monaco gathered more than a thousand participants, notably professors, researchers and students who had been enlivening seventy-six open sections to debate on one of the first causes of death among men and the second among women. The various workshops held by more than 200 specialists reviewed the most advanced knowledge on carcinogenic forms with a special focus on the paediatric as well as the ones affecting breast, digestive system and lung.
HelloMonaco did not miss this important medical forum and asked Prof. Xavier Pivot (X.P.), General Director of the Institut de Cancérolgie Strasbourg Europe Medical Oncologist, PhD in Pharmacology and President of the Biennial, to present this year’s edition through a series of interesting considerations.
HelloMonaco: Professor Pivot, what do you expect from this international meeting of doctors and researchers of primary importance in Monaco?
X.P.: The Biennial is a long-standing event and I am proud to preside over such an institution that has been going on for more than thirty years. It is really a crucial time of exchange for specialists in oncology who treat this kind of pathologies. Radiotherapists, haematologists, pharmacists and partners in the world of pharmaceutical industry are particularly involved, as well. This international congress can be considered as one of the greatest meeting of the French-speaking world, including Belgium and Switzerland. Here, the actors compare their knowledge on the use of innovation in the therapeutic routine and share their thoughts to learn from each other. Besides that, there are of course training sessions addressed to young medical interns and nurses. Nevertheless, the key mission of the Biennial remains the interconnection of scientific information on cancerology since cancer still represents a plague that must be defeated. This kind of interactions are essential also to achieve a better understanding. The specialists who are attending the Biennial can really provide useful information to their colleagues with the aim at improving patient’s care. Moreover, Monegasque panels can trigger innovative research projects, which happens quite often both at national and international level.
HelloMonaco: What progress has been made in oncology over the past two years?
X.P.: The advancements in this medical field are really many and I cannot name them all. Technological evolution is truly the fil rouge of this edition incorporating biotechnology which is offering new therapeutic tools practically every month in each field of cancer studies. Referring to my expertise in breast cancer, my medical specialization, there are about twenty new treatments available of which two or three have brought about a real change in the way to deal with cancer. I am referring, for example, to antibodies like the Trastuzumab, commercially known by the name of Herceptin®, that revolutionized patient healthcare acting as its ‘spinal column’. We succeeded then in loading those antibodies with chemotherapy agents in order to target specifically the tumour cell, by affecting the core disease with limited systemic side effect on the patient. Thus, the medical protocol has completely changed on a multidisciplinary basis and we are now very optimistic in pushing back this human scourge.
HelloMonaco: Did the pandemic penalize cancer treatments? If so, at what extent?
X.P.: Cancer research was not directly involved by the pandemic emergency since studies on SARS-CoV-2 move on different plans. However, from the point of view of care, negative effects have been significant in three respects: cancer patients are more at risk for their low immune system which may inhibit the effect of the vaccine; the health emergency destabilized the hospital organization due to the concomitance of serious illnesses; last but not least, social distancing discouraged citizens from doing periodic screenings, impacting on the prevention and the early detection of cancer.
HelloMonaco: What makes the Principality the ideal place to host this congress?
X.P.: Monaco is a historical site and it is about the history of special men. Michel Hery was a radiotherapist at the local Hospital some time ago. He was strongly committed in education and knowledge transmission to young people. Hence the idea of creating this summit every two years in January, that turned out amazing. The Principality is then an inspiring destination and the Sovereign Prince always contribute to facilitate the success of this meeting. Prince Albert II of Monaco has been actively playing His role within the European Organisation for Cancer Research and Treatment (E.O.R.T.C.) for some years, continuing His ancestors’. Moreover, on the Monegasque territory there are actors particularly committed in this medical field like the Monaco Scientific Centre.
Dr Vincent Picco, Responsible for Research at the Mechanism of Resistance to Targeted Therapies Team, Centre Scientifique de Monaco, concluded:
“We are currently focused on paediatric brain cancer being remarkably supported by the Monaco-based Flavien Association for about six years. We use paramount sampling to investigate the causes of cancer cell formation in children in order to find new cures specifically created for this adolescent condition to reduce cancer resilience and increase chances of total recovery. This Biennial represents a big opportunity for the Principality!”.
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