Patient Meeting – Birmingham
Around 20 patients and relatives attended OcuMel UK’s first ever Regional Patient Meeting, held at The Studio venue near Birmingham New Street Station. The purpose of the regional meetings is to allow patients to get together, hear some relevant talks, and meet other patients from their area (in this case the West Midlands). However, for our first one we had patients join us from all over the country.
We had two main talks – the first was from Mr Mandeep Sagoo who joined us from St Barts and London, where he works as one of a handful of ocular oncologists in this country. He gave us an overview of eye cancer including how and where it forms, and then talked about his approach to the treatment and surveillance of the cancer.
Mr Sagoo explained that moles in the eye are common. He took us through how he would decide which moles would need to be watched and at what point a nevus becomes a small melanoma. He went on to talk about the different treatment options he would consider and why, and he explained the inherent difficulties of performing biopsies.
Finally Mr Sagoo talked about his method of surveillance for extra ocular recurrence; which at the time of the talk, was twice-yearly blood tests and ultrasound scans. He explained that finding an adjuvant therapy to use at the time of eye treatment is of paramount importance and that an international effort was required to get this research happening.
The second main talk was from Mr Stephen Fenwick who is a liver surgeon from Aintree. His service has close links with the Liverpool eye centre and the Clatterbridge Centre For Oncology. He talked about the general principles of liver surgery, including how things have improved. He then went on to talk about the benefit of resection in colorectal patients, relating this then to the surgical resection of ocular melanoma metastases.
Mr Fenwick took us through different regional treatments such as SIRSpheres, drug eluting beads, and percutaneous hepatic perfusion. He briefly mentioned the use of chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, before finishing with his thought on the way forward.
In Mr Fenwick’s opinion, teamwork and collaborative working across the various specialisms involved in the treatment of the ocular melanoma patient is absolutely key to the future of the cancer. He feels this would best be served in specialist centres around the country. His final thoughts concurred with those Mr Sagoo, about the necessity for research, but he added that research should also focus on treatments used at the point the cancer has spread.
We were also very lucky to have two nurse specialists at the meeting – Louise Jones who talked about her work with the liver patients in Aintree, and Donna Begg who told us about the SUAVE trial in Birmingham.
Many thanks to all the speakers for giving up their time and travelling to the venue to allow us to benefit from their expertise.