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Highlights from the Urological Association of Asia Annual Congress 2017

Having trained and worked in London throughout my urology career, I have recently relocated and joined the exciting, dynamic urology community of my birthplace, Hong Kong. Coincidentally, it so happens to be this year’s host of the Urological Association of Asia (UAA) annual congress #UAA2017.

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The beautiful and mesmerising night view of the Victoria Harbour of Hong Kong.

Established in 1990 in Fukuoka, Japan, the #UAA currently has 25 urological associations as members or affiliated members across Asia and Australasia with and over 25,000 members. This was my attendance at the #UAA and it most certainly did not disappoint. What made the conference even more special was the chance to meet up with my good friend and ex-colleague from Guy’s Hospital @nairajesh – both of us were honoured to speak at the meeting. With over 1600 delegates attending the meeting and over 500 scientific abstracts presented, the congress served as an excellent platform for knowledge exchange and the establishment of professional links with many urological greats in Asia and beyond.

 

Pre #UAA2017 Congress Activities

#UAA2017 started off with a pre-congress ‘wet-lab’ 3D laparoscopic skills and endourology workshop hosted by @HKUniversity and the European School of Urology @UrowebESU. Both transperitoneal laparoscopic and retroperitoneoscopic techniques were taught by eminent leaders and pioneers in minimally invasive urological surgery by faculties from Europe, India and China, including Professor Jens Rassweiller, Professor Christian Schwentner (@Schwenti1977), Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano), Professor Janak Desai (@drjanajddesai), and Professor Zhang Shudong.

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Joint UAA-ESU 3D laparoscopic and endourological skills course faculties. Left to right: Dr Ada Ng (Hong Kong), Dr Wayne Lam @WayneLam_Urol (Hong Kong), Professor Janek Desai @drjanajddesai (India), Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong), Dr James Tsu (Hong Kong), Dr WK Ma (Hong Kong).

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Joint UAA-ESU 3D Laparoscopic skills workshop – Above: Professor Rassweiller (Germany) supervising overseas delegates. Below: Professor MK Yiu (Hong Kong) demonstrating techniques of laparoscopic suturing to delegates from China.

The renal cell carcinoma #RCC masterclass was a particular highlight. A whole day of excellent lectures and speakers entertained both local and international delegates, and was particularly popular with trainees. There were talks examining the role of percutaneous biopsy of renal tumours presented by Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72), an update of current trends and techniques in robotic and laparoscopic partial nephrectomy by Dr. Joseph Wong (Hong Kong) and Dr. Shuo Wang (China) and a fantastic discussion examining the role of non-clamping partial nephrectomy by Dr. Ringo Chu (Hong Kong). The afternoon session kicked off with @nairajesh giving a comprehensive review on the surgical management of advanced #RCC. Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands) continued with an examination of neoadjuvant and adjuvant systemic therapy in #RCC and the emerging role of #immunotherapy. Professor Alessandro Volpe (@foxal72) discussed the current #EAU guidelines and recent updates.

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Masterclass in #RCC: @foxal72 , @nairajesh , Professor Axel Bex (Netherlands), with moderators Dr Ringo Chu (Hong Kong) and Dr Joseph Wong (Hong Kong).

 

Day 1 of #UAA2017

The plenary session on day 1 of #UAA started off with Professor Zengnan Mo from China on the epidemiology of prostate cancer in Asia. There is, not surprisingly, a very diverse range of incidence of #prostatecancer rate across the largest continent in the world, inevitably effected by the presence of #PSA screening in countries such as Japan and Korea, ethnicity (East Asia vs Middle East), genetics (Israeli Jewish population), and their local healthcare system and policies. Arguably the currently available #prostatecancer screening trials may not be applicable to the Asian populations, and various on-going studies in Japan and China are going to address these issues. One in particular is an ongoing population-based study funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, in which over 50,000 men will be recruited into the screening, early detection, localised, and advanced #prostatecancer cohorts and to be followed up with time. Obviously, we will not expect to see the results of the trial anytime soon, but will surely answers to address the behaviour of prostate cancer in the Asian population in the future.

Professor Sam Cheng (@UroCancerMD) from Vanderbilt University then gave a comprehensive review on the current status of #cystectomy. Robotic cystectomy appears to have the benefit of reduced blood loss and length of stay. However, long-term oncological outcome still remains uncertain, and certainly, patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) is lacking.

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Day 2 of #UAA2017

After early showers on day 2 of UAA, Hong Kong was heating up with temperatures over 33 degrees Celsius. So were the discussions in the plenary session in the morning. Professor Freddie Hamdy (@Freddie_Hamdy) gave the #EAU lecture on #activesurveillance for #prostatecancer. This was followed on nicely with the current status of #prostatecancer management in Hong Kong by Dr. Yau-Tung Chan and Dr. Gerhardt Attard (UK) enlightened the audience with a concise update in the management of hormone sensitive prostate cancer, an area where the landscape is ever-changing.

The advanced oncology session started off with a heated debate in the use of mass clamping (Dr Ringo Chu, Hong Kong) versus selective artery clamping in partial nephrectomy (Dr Tae-Gyun Kwon, Korea). Both speakers presented with very valid arguments and perhaps it was fair to say it ended up with all square. Professor Krishna Sethia (UK) gave a fascinating summary of the current local management of #penilecancer at centralised penile cancer centres in the UK, after which I was honoured to provide an update on current nodal management in #penilecancer from my recent experience at St George’s University Hospitals @StGeorgesTrust in the UK. It was exciting to see the centralisation of services in #penilecancer in the UK has given great opportunities to understand and optimise management of patients with such rare disease.

The Semi-live sessions entertained the audience on both days of the conference. Excellent videos were presented throughout. Professor Koon Rha of Yonsei University in South Korea gave a fantastic semi-live talk on his tricks and techniques of Retzius-space sparing Robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Perhaps what’s even more exciting to know is that a Korean company has produced a new robot for surgery which has been well tested by Professor Rha’s group, which has just literally been licenced and approved in Korea just days before #UAA2017. Will this finally drive the cost of robotic surgery down? Time will tell.

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Associate Professor Declan Murphy (@declanmurphy) and Mr. Rajesh Nair (@nairajesh) both contributed with a beautiful video showcasing techniques in total pelvic exenteration and long-term outcomes of urinary diversion and reconstruction in this cohort of patients.

The Gala dinner in the evening was full of fun and entertainment. Following the performance of a soprano quartet formed by local Hong Kong urologists (who sang the classic My Way with a twist on prostate examination!), the rock stars of urology – Professor Jens Rassweiller, Dr Samuel Yee from Hong Kong, and Dr Domenico Veneziano (@d_veneziano) provided an energetic and electrifying live performance of some rock classics!

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Urology Rock N’ Roll! Left to right: Professor Jens Rassweiller (Germany), Dr Domenico Veneziano (Italy), Dr Samuel Yee (Hong Kong).

However, perhaps the highlight and the most touching moment of the evening the performance of a song written and sung by a young local former patient with a history of #ketaminebladder , who was successfully treated by the urology team lead by Professor Anthony Ng at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. His surgery and treatment has transformed his life – he is now enjoying a career as both a singer-songwriter of a rock band and as a footballer!

 

Day 3 of #UAA2017

The morning plenary session also saw the evergreen Dr Peggy Chu of Hong Kong, renown for her discovery of ketamine-associated uropathy and pioneered the management of this challenging 21st century urological disease.

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Left to right: Dr CW Man (Hong Kong), Congress President of #UAA2017, and Dr Peggy Chu (Hong Kong).

She delivered a very interesting talk on revisiting the role of #gastrocystoplasty. Interestingly, the operation was first described and carried out in human by the honourable Professor CH Leong at my current institution, Queen Mary Hospital @HKUniversity , in the 1970s following a successful animal study at the same institution. Its use has been limited due to its associated metabolic disturbances, but arguably it is still a weapon that can be used when tackling patients with tuberculosis-associated severely contracted bladder, in particular those who have already been rendered to have a single solitary kidney due to the disease. Another situation when #gastrocystoplasty can still be considered are those patients with #ketamine uropathy. Although patients are usually required to be completely abstinence from #ketamine abuse for a certain lengthy period of time before they are eligible for surgical treatment, many fear the avalanche effect of ileal re-absorption of the drug if an ileo-cystoplasty has been carried out in these patients, if they happen to resume ketamine use in the future. Hence, #gastrocystoplasty may be a better substitution tissue for cystoplasty in the management of such patients.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to catch up with fellow Guy’s Hospital urology graduates @nairajesh and @declanmurphy over a cold pint of Hong Kong locally made #MoonzenBeer, when the temperature outside the conference centre was hitting 34 degrees Celsius!

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Left to right: Dr Wayne Lam (Hong Kong), Mr Rajesh Nair (Australia/United Kingdom), A/Prof Declan Murphy (Australia).

All credits to #UAA and the local organisers’ immense effort and hard work, making this congress a valuable learning experience for everyone who participated. We very much look forward to #UAA2018. Bring on Kyoto, Japan!

 

 

Wayne Lam

Assistant Professor in Urology, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong

Twitter: @WayneLam_Urol

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Rajesh Nair

Fellow in Robotic Surgery and Uro-Oncology

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EAU 2017 Congress Days 1&2

 
rajesh-nair≠WeAreNotAfraid. Perhaps the standout memory of EAU – London 2017. The 32nd Annual EAU Congress in London was marked with a message of defiance from colleagues and delegates from London, Great Britain, Europe and Worldwide. These were messages of solidarity, which rang through in person and on social media after an attack at Westminster.  It was quite simple. London, Europe and the World will continue regardless of these tragic events and our urological fraternity beautifully demonstrated this as days following, a record-breaking attendance of 12000 delegates from over 123 countries descended to the Excel Centre in London, UK.

 

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 EAU-2017 had surpassed many a milestone. A record breaking 5000 abstracts were submitted for poster and video presentations from over 81 countries. 1200 presentations were displayed across 300 poster and video sessions. This year showcased an expansion of the number of plenary sessions from 4 to 7 allowing for a greater choice for all delegates. The quality, breadth and expertise behind the EBUS educational courses must be commended. Finally, as always, live surgery, which has year on year, proved to be popular was broadcast from Guy’s Hospital, London. They showcased the crème de la crème of surgical talent from live procedures with over 30 surgeons involved in operating, moderating, acting as patient advocates and in organisation. I, as I am sure all delegates extend our gratitude to the patients involved during the live surgical broadcast.

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 The camaraderie was clear to see. One could not take more than ten steps without running into a colleague or friend. It was a perfect opportunity to catch up, network and build relationships. Perhaps it was Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh (NHS England’s Medical Director and Commissioner of the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI)) who described it best in his opening address: ‘meetings like this are vitally important since it is at these occasions that knowledge and professional links are developed, and at these events ideas take seed and take hold: the important ideas that will later lead to significant work and progress in medicine.”

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In addition, the opening ceremony showcased some the serious talent in urology. Awards for Prof. Paul Abrams, Prof. Per-Anders Abrahamsson, Prof. Christian Gratzke, Dr. Riccardo Autorino and Mr. Richard Turner-Warwick demonstrated their commitment, hard work and dedication to the specialty.

Day 1 began with multiple subspecialty meetings and meetings between affiliated sections. These themed discussions were stimulating and really addressed the trials and tribulations as well as successes in the delivery of urology worldwide. Day 1 also showcased a fantastic session organised by the prostate cancer prevention group. They examined the role of active surveillance in low risk prostate cancer with specific reference to data from ProtecT, ESRPC and the PLCO trials. Prof. Hamdy gave a comprehensive overview of the ProtecT study and reminded the audience that the risk of death from prostate cancer remains low (1% over ten years), and that surgery and radiotherapy although reduce cancer progression can result in bothersome side effects.  The increasing role of urine based biomarkers; microRNA, imaging and genetic testing were all discussed when redefining the cohort of patients suitable for active surveillance.

The night ended with drinks at the Healtap, a bar outside Guy’s hospital, London. This was a throwback to the past for many. Old friends and colleagues, past fellows and current urologists all gathered to reminisce about past UK experiences. Following this, a late night serious session of serious recording and video production ensued with Declan Murphy and Alastair Lamb. For those open surgical protagonists who wonder ‘what have the robots ever done for us?’ I encourage you to watch:

The opening plenary session of Day 2: ‘Sleepless nights: Would you do the same again?’ chaired by Mr. Tim O’Brien critically re-evaluates some of the management decisions for kidney cancer from a medico-legal perspective. This session was fascinating and almost akin to a TV drama. A medico-legal lawyer (Mr. Leigh) vociferously cross-examining key members of faculty and an audience watching them sweat over what would have been initially perceived an acceptable clinical decision. A key message: allow your patients to take on decisions and not shoulder the entire burden yourself and the phrase; ‘your skills are for your patient, your notes are for yourselves’ continues to resonate.

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Another EAU annual conference goes by with yet more casualties from a verbal punch up. The second session showcased a debate on robotic salvage prostatectomy between Declan Murphy and Axel Heidenreich. Perhaps the blood spilt from this joust reminded the audience that despite the rising bank of evidence favouring salvage prostatectomy, there will always remains debate when a salvage procedure is associated with increased morbidity and risk for the patient.

The ‘twitosphere’ was heavily active. The beauty of this as always is that if you were to miss sessions, lectures or abstracts, the ability to follow them on twitter in real time adds another dimension to conference attendance.

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The most re-tweeted slide was presented by Dr. Ashish Kamat, a simple yes incredibly powerful slide demonstrating the equivalence in disease specific survival between high grade T1 urothelial carcinoma of the bladder and advanced prostate cancer reminded us all of the need to be vigilant and aggressive with high grade non muscle invasive disease of the bladder.

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Day 2 brought out some of the best in abstracts, EBUS courses and updates in clinical trials.  The latest developments in urological research include: the PROstate MRI Imaging Study (PROMIS) trial results reviewed by Hashim Ahmed and futher evidence and discussion from the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) trial by Freddie Hamdy. Prof. Jim Catto gave an eloquent talk examining the role of the enhanced recovery programme in radical cystectomy.

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What a fantastic start to the meeting! As you shall see, the remainder of the meeting did not disappoint. Dr. Hendrick Borgmann will reveal all in the update of day 3 and 4.

 

Mr. Rajesh Nair

Fellow in Robotics and Uro-Oncology

The Royal Melbourne Hospital & Peter MacCallum Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Twitter: @nairajesh

 

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