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Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, Feb. 5-8, 2009

Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' 40th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer

The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' 40th Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer took place Feb. 5 to 8 in San Antonio, Texas, and attracted about 1,500 attendees from around the world, including 900 physicians. The meeting featured more than 360 presentations and addressed recent advances in surgical disease management, medical/oncologic/radio-therapeutic treatment, and preventative medicine.

"One of the key themes this year was robotic surgery," said Carolyn Y. Muller, M.D., of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, and chair of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' marketing and communications committee. "We tend to be leaders in that field because robotics is well-designed for our specialty's advanced surgical issues," she explained.

"We previously reported the benefits of using the robotic approach, including decreased blood loss, better node yield, decreased length of hospital stay and faster recovery," Muller said. "This year saw the presentation of retrospective evaluations and a prospective single-center evaluation showing that disease-free periods and survival rates are as good in patients who undergo robotic surgery as in those who undergo conventional surgery."

During a plenary session on minimally invasive surgical techniques, researchers presented six abstracts on robotic surgery. In one of the studies, Leigh Cantrell, M.D., and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducted a retrospective analysis of 71 women who attempted robotic radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer. They found that 94 percent of the patients experienced progression-free survival and overall survival after 36 months.

"Robotic radical hysterectomy is safe and feasible and has been shown to be associated with decreased estimated blood loss, decreased length of surgery, and increased pelvic lymph node retrieval," Cantrell and colleagues conclude. "This study shows that at three years, robotic radical hysterectomy appears to have progression-free and overall survival equivalent to that of traditional laparotomy. Longer follow-up is needed, but early data are supportive of at least equivalent oncologic outcomes compared with other surgical modalities."

Abstract #10 (site ID and password required)

"From a clinical as well as a scientific perspective, there were some interesting presentations on Lynch syndrome screening of newly diagnosed endometrial cancer patients," Muller said. "Molecular tests can help us identify a greater percentage of patients who have Lynch gene aberrations and should be referred to genetic counseling, an analysis of their family histories, and perhaps further testing."

In one study, Kimberly Resnick, M.D., of the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus, and colleagues performed a cost-effectiveness analysis of four strategies to screen women for Lynch syndrome. They found that immunohistochemistry followed by single-gene (mutation-specific) sequencing for all 40,000 women diagnosed each year with endometrial cancer would detect 858 Lynch syndrome cases at a cost of $17 million, resulting in a favorable incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $13,812. "Detection of Lynch syndrome in women with endometrial cancer will impact future colorectal cancer screening among probands and their families," Resnick and colleagues conclude.

Abstract #5 (site ID and password required)

Other highlights included a late-breaking abstract that will be published in the March issue of Gynecologic Oncology. "The researchers looked at tumors from patients who had a BRCA mutation and found evidence that the gene can mutate back to functional gene," Muller said. "That's an incredibly new paradigm and nobody quite understands it. But it's going to be the focus of a whole lot of work coming out of our organization."

In that study, Elizabeth Swisher, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues found that secondary mutations commonly occur in breast and ovarian tumors in women with germline BRCA1/2 mutations following exposure to chemotherapy and are a novel mechanism of platinum resistance.

"The Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' vision is to eradicate women's cancers," society president Thomas Burke, M.D., said in a statement. "The annual meeting affords attendees the opportunity to gather together to share knowledge, examine new surgical techniques and review advances in scientific research. It is through the daily application of these learnings that our goal can be ultimately realized."

SGO: Annual Meeting Features Robotics Surgery Sessions

THURSDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Robotics-assisted surgery -- one of the fastest-growing technological advances in gynecologic oncology -- is a featured topic at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists' Annual Meeting on Women's Cancer held Feb. 5 to 8 in San Antonio, Texas.

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