October 9, 2013

The 16th annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ www.ThyCa.org conference took place from September 27-29, 2013 in Philadelphia. A record breaking 550 attendees came to the meeting. Through this conference, ThyCa is able to bring together the latest research, advances in treatment, follow-up and coping skills for the well-being of thyroid cancer survivors and their caregivers.

Dr. Steven Sherman, Dr. Lori Wirth and Dwight Vicks, ITOG board members, led two sessions in the conference.  The sessions, Learn about the International Thyroid Oncology Group (ITOG), Its Cooperative Relationship With ThyCa, and What ITOG is Doing To Advance Thyroid Cancer Research Now and in the Future, were well received.

Dr. Sherman and Dr. Wirth presented ITOG’s mission which is to find and develop therapies for the most difficult to treat advanced thyroid cancers. They explained the unique collaboration between its members who include leading physicians, scientists, and advocates to design, coordinate and prioritize state-of-the-art clinical trials and correlative science.

Patients and their caregivers learned that ITOG’s four main goals are to: 1. Develop novel treatments to not just stabilize disease but also to reduce tumor burden and improve both the duration and quality of life. 2. Decipher the biology of how treatments work… and don’t work 3. Foster interest of new generations of medical professionals to pursue a career in thyroid cancer research and 4. Facilitate getting the science from the lab to the patients… Safely and quickly.

Patients have now been enrolled in ITOG’s first clinical trial, a major milestone for the organization.  It is a phase II trial of cabozantinib as 2nd line therapy for DTC that progresses on first line anti-VEGFR therapy

The doctors also announced that four additional ITOG trials are now in development and planning stages. News, updates and other information will appear regularly on ITOG’s newly developed website- www.ITOG.org

Dwight Vicks, founder and Treasurer of ITOG began each session by describing the origins of ITOG.  Dwight’s wife Jean was diagnosed with an aggressive medullary thyroid cancer in 2004. There were few, if any, therapies and there was virtually no coordinated research being done to treat these rare and aggressive thyroid cancers. Dwight and Jean saw the urgent need, and with the help of a number of physicians formed ITOG. Now, in 2013, ITOG has over 60 members, has raised over $1,000,000 and is well on its way to fulfilling its mission.

Rick Abrams, ITOG member and thyroid cancer patient shared his enthusiasm for ITOG after attending the last two annual meetings and doing some committee work.  He commented, “I have rarely, if ever, observed such a sincere and committed group of people working together towards a common goal.  All patients with advanced thyroid cancer can be even more hopeful because of work they are doing.”

Both sessions were well attended There was lots of time for lively and informative Q&A and back and forth between attendees and presenters.

Dr. Steve Sherman summed up his enthusiasm by saying, “I always enjoy presenting at the annual ThyCa conference.  As a physician, I don’t often get to speak to, and learn from a large group of patients at the same time. I am always inspired and motivated by the people I meet, and the stories I hear. With ITOG on its way to fulfilling a deep medical need, I am even more excited about the opportunity to present here and work with ThyCa.”

After the ITOG sessions, Gary Bloom, Executive Director of Thyca: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association (www.thyca.org) said, “ThyCa's mission of being the organization committed to support and education for all people impacted by a thyroid cancer diagnosis complements ITOG's mission of developing new treatments for advanced thyroid cancer. I look forward to strengthening our relationship with ITOG and its members in the years ahead."

Eighteen medical and scientific presentations were made by ITOG members in addition to the ITOG overview sessions described above.

In alphabetical order by last name, they were:

Douglas W. Ball, M.D., Endocrinologist, The Current Status of Molecular Targeted Therapeutics for the Treatment of Advanced Medullary Thyroid Cancer. and

Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Ask a Doctor Your Questions.

Kenneth D. Burman, M.D., Endocrinologist, Overview of Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer.

Maria E. Cabanillas, M.D. Endocrinologist, Novel Chemotherapies for Patients With Metastatic Papillary, Follicular, or Hurthle Cell Thyroid Cancer.

Ross Cagan, Ph.D., Regenerative Biologist, Addressing Complexity in Thyroid Cancer: Center for Personalized Cancer Therapeutics.

Herbert Chen, M.D., F.A.C.S., Endocrine Surgeon, Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Surgical Management and Long-Term Treatment Options. and

Update on Medullary Thyroid Cancer Research Funded Through the American Cancer Society.

Robert F. Gagel, M.D., Endocrinologist, Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Clarifying Any Confusion.

Barry D. Nelkin, Ph.D., Researcher, Medullary Thyroid Cancer: What do We as Scientists Hope to Learn Now, and in the Future.

Eric J. Sherman, M.D., Oncologist, Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: Treatment, Research, Clinical Trials. and

Systemic Therapy for RAI Refractory Thyroid Cancer, Both Current Treatment Options and Potential Future Advances.

Steven I. Sherman, M.D., Endocrinologist, Medullary Thyroid Cancer: Non-Surgical Approaches to Systemic Treatment.

Julie Ann Sosa, M.D. M.A. Surgeon, The Surgical Approach to the Patient with Residual or Recurrent Lymph Node Metastases. and

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: Surgical Management, Post-Surgical Treatment, and Coping With Side Effects.

R. Michael Tuttle, M.D., Endocrinologist, Research Advances in Differentiated and Medullary Thyroid Cancer- Where Are We, and Where Do We Go From Here? and

A Discussion About Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

and

Evaluation of Thyroid Nodules Both to Determine a Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis As Well As to Diagnose a Recurrence.

Lori J. Wirth, M.D., Oncologist, Pros and Cons of Novel Chemotherapies for Refractory (Non-RAI Avid) Disease.