Hello from the seventh annual World Conference on Interventional Oncology! We've just wrapped up our first day at WCIO, the international and multidisciplinary meeting for image-guided cancer therapies.
Perhaps not surprising given the current tenor of the health care industry, this year's meeting is highly focused on demonstrating comparative effectiveness as well as cost effectiveness of interventional oncology techniques. Given the wide range of oncologic treatment options and the growing arsenal of interventional modalities, there is keen interest in identifying comparative effectiveness research (CER) to guide treatment decision-making and define care pathways. Furthermore, as health care providers, policymakers, and industry stakeholders prepare for the implementation of national health care reform legislation calling for a greater focus on CER and evidence-based medicine, there is tangible interest in these areas highlighted in this year's WCIO presentations and clinical sessions.
CER in the interventional oncology (IO) space has a two-fold value proposition: to raise the profile of interventional treatment modalities among other medical oncology, radiation therapy and surgical treatment options--typically utilized as an adjuvant, second, or third-line therapy--and also to aid in clinicians' treatment selection among different interventional approaches. Many of the clinical abstracts presented at this year's WCIO meeting are focused on the use of interventional techniques for either therapeutic and/or palliative use, with the intent of demonstrating comparative effectiveness of these modalities. Additionally, there is also a significant focus on quality of life outcomes associated with IO techniques, such as decreased pain and extended months of life, as there is a lot of interest in palliative applications and use among salvage patient populations who may be ineligible for other treatment options.
Beyond the focus on comparative effectiveness research, multidisciplinary care is another major theme of this year's conference. Though "ownership" of interventional procedures is typically shared by interventional radiologists and surgeons, cooperation with and buy in from medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and other specialists, is critical to sustaining a robust interventional oncology program. Multidisciplinary tumor boards, which are increasing in number in line with larger trends in cancer care, can function as a critical pipeline for identifying patients who are eligible for interventional treatments and generating IO volumes. As researchers are exploring expanded applications for interventional modalities to complement medical, radiation and surgical treatments, convening a group of multidisciplinary stakeholders in tumor boards may help broaden the IO referral base by engaging a range of clinicians in the consideration of interventional treatment options. IO platform vendors are also quick to point out that interventional modalities need not necessarily displace other service lines' books of business, but that they can complement other courses of therapy.
We'll continue to live blog from the conference, so stay tuned. Tomorrow, we'll cover some of the most compelling new research in interventional oncology applications.