Welcome to the inaugural post in our “Where’s Weber?” blog series!

In this series we will attempt to keep up with our founder, Dr. Thomas Weber, as he trots across the country and around the globe speaking on a variety of topics relating to the newest advances in diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer, screening practices, and trends such as the alarming rise in early age onset of this disease.  This foundation is a testament to the depth of Dr. Weber’s commitment to eradicating this disease and supporting all who are fighting it, and we are excited to loop our community into Dr. Weber’s ground-breaking work.

Event: World Endoscopy Organization Colorectal Cancer Screening Committee Meeting

Where and When: Chicago, May 5, 2017

Dr. W’s Gig: Presentation on “Young Onset CRC” as part of the session on Risk Groups

JB: Why is it important to take the time out of your already packed schedule to attend events like this?

TW: I would say it’s because so much of this effort is driven by the reality of taking care of people with the disease.  When you do that on a regular basis it prompts you to ask yourself what could we possibly do to prevent this and what could we do to protect people and faciliitate the earliest possible diagnosis.

On the issues of early age onset colorectal cancer (EAO-CRC), the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation started this campaign over four years ago and just finished our Third Annual EAO-CRC Symposium.  We were actively engaged well before this got all the recent press this past March.  It is so important to promote awareness about this issue.  The vast majority of people are diagnosed late and that can translate into poor outcomes.

I see this work as a direct extension of my day job, which is taking care of patients with this disease.  And having done special training in surgical oncology, we are trained to take it to the next level and see what’s really going on.  Giving these talks is a direct continuum and helps promote awareness and provides opportunities to discuss the issues with colleagues and to launch programs to promote awareness and facilitate prevention and earliest possible diagnosis.

JB: What is the World Endoscopy Organization (WEO)?

TW: WEO is truly a global organization of gastro and endoscopy specialists.  This is their annual CRC screening committee meeting.  So the bulk of this meeting was all about trying to fine tune and optimize current screening technologies, including stool testing technologies, improved endoscopic techniques, and very sophisiticaed investigations into the timing and frequency of these tests, reviewing the guidelines in great detail.  The inclusion of EAO-CRC in this program shows grave concern from this organization.  It’s global issue.

This meeting was the day before the start of Digestive Disease Week (DDW), a huge international meeting with thousands of people from all over the world.  WEO holds satellite meetings around DDW, and this was one of them.

JB: Are there any important highlights from this meeting that are particularly relevant to our community?

TW: There was a lot of discussion about very early small adenomas and to what extent is it necessary to continue to follow people, i.e. how often they are screened and with what technique.  We really tried to work through the data and the science to come up with the safest screening schedule.

The major takeaway was from Dr. Sidney Winawer from Memorial Sloane, who said, “The best test is the test that is done well.”  With all the different types of testing, patients can have difficulty naviating and deciding what is the best technique.  Just get it done and get it done well.

There was also important discussion around clinical assessment tools.  There is great international interest in these efforts to provide doctors with decision support tools (e.g. data) to refer patients for a colonoscopy.  There is a very small percentage of people with symptoms and signs that will have CRC, but there are other diseases that people could have that you need to know about because they are treatable!  Treatable diseases like colitis or crohns make people more susceptible to CRC in the future.

The overarching agenda was 1) What’s up with incidence; 2) What are the causes; and 3) What are the action steps to save lives.  It has taken years to make this observation and organize it, to get a grip.  What are the constructive ways to look at it and think about it?

The Colon Cancer Foundation has been instrumental in this effort to break it all down by organizing three summits with faculty from all over the world.  These events have allowed us to really grasp the problem.  We have been at the forefront and want to stay there by forming effective collaborations with the right people.

For more information on the WEO Colorectal Cancer Screening Committee, please click here.

For the full program, click here.

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