Real-World Oncology: Don’t miss ICON’s 2016 conference

ICON is in the thick of preparations for its 2016 conference – ‘Real World Oncology’.

A primary aim at ICON is to facilitate education and discussion for all those involved in the management of oncology patients, and this year a major event on the calendar is its conference to be held in August. Local and international experts will share research and discuss developments at the forefront of cancer treatment – while ICON will present its unique set of data that has the potential to change the way South African practitioners understand the disease profiles and local treatment practice.

There is a dearth of cancer-related data in South Africa. “Currently there is no complete South African registry on cancer incidence and prevalence or treatment practices, but ICON has a comprehensive database of authorisation request data,” explains Dr Lee-Ann Jones, head of the conference organising committee. “We are going to present the relevant data for each disease discussed at the conference.”

ICON has always prided itself on being a trusted go-between for patients, oncologists and medical schemes, and the rationale behind its 2016 conference underlines this ethos. The theme of the event is ‘Real-World Oncology’ – chosen because it will engage with the very real concerns of patients, medical practitioners, fieldworkers and funders alike.

Real-world oncology straddles the line between evidence-based medicine, the area where clinical trials are performed and clinical protocols are written, and the realities of the funding perspective, which has to weigh cost versus potential benefits.

The conference’s academic programme is predetermined by an academic panel and all clinical topics discussed will be supported by clinical registry data which is unique to ICON.

It will include an examination of the most prevalent diseases, as well as the most crucial current topics in research. “We are also looking at a comprehensive palliative care programme, which is a new focus for ICON,” Dr Jones says.

A highlight will be the unveiling of a key new project, namely the ICON Best Supportive Care Programme which is headed up by Dr David Eedes. Because access to palliative care is constrained in South Africa, Dr Jones explains, this is a crucial area to focus on. “When patients are no longer receiving active treatment, they are not always able to access to the appropriate care due to funding limitations. How does one define what a patient needs and what funders should pay for?”

“We are developing a programme that meets that need for a patient, so that patients will then have access to the care they need.”

A key problem currently involves preventing unnecessary hospitalisation. Many patients would prefer to be at home, but often funds are not available to pay for home nursing. This, in turn, often results in greater costs to the scheme. “We would like to begin engaging with funders in this respect,” says Dr Jones.

The service will be rolled out in 2017. It is currently still being built, and all stakeholders are involved in the process. “Palliative care is a complex speciality and we need to give in-depth thought to the requirements of the patients,” she says.

The conference will feature three high-profile speakers, namely Dr Matti Aapro of the Multidisciplinary Oncology Institute in Switzerland, Dr Russell Hoverman of Texas Oncology in the USA, and Dr Fergus Macbeth of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK.

Dr Aapro is an expert in breast cancer, cancer in the elderly and supportive care. Dr Hoverman works in the fields of value-based cancer care, cancer care pathways and NCCN guidelines, while Dr Macbeth’s area of focus is clinical guideline development, evidence-based practice and clinical research.

The conference will be held at the Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng on 12 to 14 August 2016.

To find out more, to view the programme or to book, please visit