Leadership Summit 2015: Medical Session

Friends of Max, the support group arm of The Max Foundation
in India and the MaxIndia team had organised the second All India Leadership
Summit on 18th- 19th April, 2015 in the city of Hyderabad, Telangana
(the newly formed 29th state of India).
The two-day long event was a huge success with over 128 city
chapter leaders from all over India coming together under a roof. The aim was
to provide them a platform to share their experience on life with cancer and
gaining new learnings to equip themselves with the means to nurture and comfort
their newer and younger peers thus helping them to face cancer with dignity and
The tag line for this summit was- ‘TOGETHER WE CAN, TOGETHER WE WILL’
The word ‘together’ got a whole new meaning as the best
minds in Oncology in India came together to support and guide our big family of
CML and GIST survivors. There are eleven oncologists on the FOM Medical
Advisory Board formed by Viji (Amma) and their contribution to the cause we
espouse is invaluable. As representatives of the Medical Fraternity, they have
given more than what anyone expected to this group and they have played a vital
role as our treating physicians in this decade and a half long journey since
the magic bullet called Imatinib revolutionised the CML and GIST therapy.
This summit was no exception and it was graced by the
presence of the following eminent Oncologists who had come from different
corners of India –
  1. Dr. Pankaj Malhotra, Chandigarh
  2. Dr. Suresh Advani, Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai
  3. Dr. Tapan Saikia, Prince Aly Khan Hospital,
  4. Dr. Raghunadharao Digumarti, Homi Bhabha
    Cancer Hospital, Vishakhapatnam
  5. Dr. Prasanth Ganeshan, Cancer Institue,
    Adiyar, Chennai
  6. Dr. Senthil Rajappa, Indo American Cancer
    Hospital, Hyderabad
Max India team with the physicians 
Apart from these, the meeting was also attended by Dr.Krishna
Mohan, Dr.Sadashivudu Gundeti, Dr.G.Vamshi Krishna Reddy, Dr.Nikhil S.
Ghadyalpatil, our NOA physicians from Hyderabad city. It was a real pleasure
and honour to have these physicians spend a few hours with us and share their
ideas and thoughts with the audience in spite of it being a busy working
Saturday for all of them.
The first session of Day 1 of the summit was on ‘The Burden of Long Term Therapy in CML and
which was chaired by Dr. Pankaj Malhotra. There were presentations
which covered the major aspects of the issues faced by patients on long term
therapy ranging from Quality of life to side effects they cope with and those
they may have to in the coming years. The attending issues brought about by
poor adherence were discussed. The new therapies on the horizon ahead and the
implication of voices being heard on stopping therapy were also addressed in
this session.
The session started with Dr. Suresh Advani’s presentation.
He gave an excellent overview of CML wherein all the important aspects related
to the condition viz. the genetic cause, the stages in CML, epidemiology,
pathogenesis and treatment were described in a very simple and lucid language.
Dr. Advani himself is a huge inspiration to one and all. From being chair borne
due to a childhood illness to becoming one of India’s best oncologist, his life
story is truly awe-inspiring. We were very fortunate to have him and his
valuable inputs in this summit.
Dr. Suresh Advani
Followed by this, Dr. Tapan Saikia, addressed one of the
crucial aspects in the long term therapy i.e. the quality of life issues. He
chose to have an interaction with his audience without any slides as he
considers slides to be a distraction in these kind of talks. CML is the kind of
cancer which cannot be cured completely but with the advent of new drugs it has
become more of a manageable condition which involves popping up a pill every
day and a patient can lead a normal life. But as every coin has two sides, this
manageability comes with its own issues of quality of life. Dr. Saikia in his
own interesting style, touched the issues faced by a patient ranging from getting
married to starting a family. He shared a few experiences he had with his cases
and in his opinion every patient should live his/her life to the fullest
irrespective of what the circumstances are. His talk was very encouraging
especially to the younger participants in their 20s and 30s.
Dr. Tapan Saikia
The next presentation was given by Dr. Raghunadharao
Digumarti on Long term effects of TKIs. He spoke about the cardiac toxicity,
abnormal bone and mineral metabolism, effects of the drug during pregnancy and
lactation, skin and liver toxicity and secondary malignancies that might arise
with the TKI treatment. Dr. Digumarti handled such a sensitive topic in an
excellent way and the interaction was peppered with his great sense of humour,
which managed to bring smile on the face of the audience. He came for a short
while in spite of his busy schedule and made his presence felt by his
motivating talk.
Dr. Raghunadharao Digumarti
Dr. Prasanth Ganesan from the Adiyar Cancer Institute,
Chennai presented on yet another important issue of Non-adherence and its
impact on the disease. He described various studies and different methods used
to gather the statistics to study the pattern of non-adherence to therapy in
CML cases. He further elaborated on the causes of non-adherence, various
factors associated with it and most importantly how to tackle this grave issue.
He shared about the ongoing study in his institute and how new techniques like
use of ‘Adherence video’ and counselling is having a huge impact on this
aspect. His session was very interesting and he ended his presentation with a
Winston Churchill quote which summed it up beautifully-
“Success is not final and failure is not fatal; it is the courage to
continue that counts.”

Dr. Prasanth Ganesan
The next session on Monitoring and Management was addressed
by Dr. Senthil Rajappa. He also opted to have a ‘Slide-free’ interaction and
was confident that his communication skills along with his good looks would be
enough to hold the attention of the audience till the end. And yes, his charm did
work. The audience listened in rapt attention as he went on to describe the
molecular monitoring using PCR test and the usefulness of this tool in the
management of CML patients. He spoke about how frequently these tests need to
be performed and added that the results need to be interpreted cautiously.
Dr. Senthil Rajappa
We had invited Dr. Ganapathy Ramanan from Chennai to share
his views on the new treatment options that are on the anvil but unfortunately
he couldn’t make it due to some medical emergency.
Dr. Pankaj Malhotra took charge of the situation and
presented his slides that were prepared using graphic designs which made them
all the more interesting so that he could explain the matter without using too
much of technical terms. He discussed in detail the new drugs that have proved
to be beneficial and spoke about the various factors that need to be taken care
of before stopping the treatment permanently.

Dr. Pankaj Malhotra
The medical session was followed by a Panel discussion on
creating Asian/subcontinent specific guidelines for treating CML and GIST.
At the end of the session, there was a look of deep
satisfaction on the faces of our leaders as the understanding gained on the
vital issues will certainly help them work more effectively with the FOM
members under their care in the different regions of the country. We really
have no words to thank our physicians for their contribution in making this
event a thumping success.

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