Budapest, Hungary, 24 June 2013

At last year’s congress, it was announced that ECIO would move from a biennial event to an annual one. 2013 saw the first proper annual occurrence of ECIO, held in June rather than April, due to other fixtures in the CIRSE calendar.

Nevertheless, the meeting proved hugely popular, with over 900 participants from 60 countries making the journey to Budapest in high summer.

Despite the incredible heat outdoors, the congress centre was ideal for participants’ needs, providing a cool and comfortable environment in which to explore the world of interventional oncology. The compact layout of the venue allowed for easy movement between sessions, booths and workshops, while still offering plenty of space and excellent facilities.

Diversity of delegates

The meeting, as always, featured an interesting mix of participants, with many representatives and speakers from other medical fields and from around the globe. This was helped in part by the ‘Bring Your Referring Physician’ programme, which offers free registration to non-radiologist colleagues and is now in its third year. Also notable were the number of young speakers presenting the research being carried out at their institutions.

Scientific highlights

Amongst the vast array of excellent lectures, workshops and discussion panels were some sessions worthy of particular attention. This year’s Honorary Lecture was delivered by Carlo Bartolozzi, a renowned researcher and educationalist from Pisa, Italy, whose career has inspired generations of Italian interventional oncologists. His lecture, Diagnosis and treatment of HCC: from guidelines to clinical practice, was a fascinating overview of the evolution of hepatic cancer therapies, as well as the current best-practice.

The ECIO meets… sessions were similarly captivating. Three were held this year, in conjunction with our partner societies the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA), the World Conference on Interventional Oncology (WCIO) and our most recently acquired ally, the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO).

ECIO meets ILCA featured a number of liver cancer experts, including Peter R. Galle, a hepatologist from Mainz, Riccardo Lencioni, Spanish hepatologist Bruno Sangro and ILCA President Josep Llovet. The joint session with the WCIO was no less fascinating: moderated by WCIO Chairperson Mike Soulen and ECIO’s Riccardo Lencioni, the session opened the floor to many young researchers, as well as established IRs from the other side of the globe. The speakers addressed a range of innovative approaches to cancer treatment, including a molecular approach to chemoembolisation, use of nanotechnology, integrating IO with radiation oncology, y-90 radioembolisation and the use of embolisation for renal tumours.

This year’s final joint session was with ESTRO, and provided fascinating parallels and comparisons between radiation oncology and interventional oncology, focussing on the professional issues that affect both specialties. Insights on how to be a clinician were given from both an IR perspective (Afshin Gangi) and a radiation oncology perspective (Vincenzo Valentini, ESTRO President). Challenges in training and assessment were also discussed, and radiation oncologist and CIRSE collaborator Lizbeth Kenny gave a fascinating talk on Collaboration, not competition, in oncology. The session ended with a panel discussion and questions from the audience.

Variety of formats

The meeting also offered a wide range of session types. Alongside standard sessions, several panel discussions were timetabled in. A new series of multidisciplinary tumour boards was introduced, discussing a variety of clinical cases. Interactive hands-on workshops covering image-guided tumour ablation in a variety of organs were offered, as were interactive sessions devoted to the management of complications, helping IRs to pre-empt, recognise and resolve any complications that may arise during or after image-guided therapy. New to the programme was a series of How I do it: tips and tricks from the experts sessions, where leading experts shared their experience with important IO treatments, including transcatheter oncology procedures and image-guided ablation.

Support from industry partners

The congress attracted the support of 26 sponsors, with 24 groups hosting booths in the exhibition area. The exhibition area itself was slightly unusual, due to the layout of the congress centre: it was located in a broad corridor skirting the main auditoria, and was intermingled with the coffee-break stations and tables. This created a particularly ambient and social environment, with much traffic and much interaction taking place between sessions, and plenty of opportunity to examine the latest products while fetching a well-deserved cup of tea.

The interventional oncology meeting of the year

The high quality and success of this year’s ECIO affirms the decision to turn the meeting into an annual event. Plans for next year’s meeting in Berlin are already underway, and we look forward to hosting another exciting forum for interventional oncology exchange.

The presentations from ECIO 2013 are available on ESIRonline, so be sure to log in and watch any sessions that you missed!