SIOG is an international, multidisciplinary organisation with a main goal of improving the care and outcome for older adults with cancer. SIOG has three missions, the first mission is education – we want to educate healthcare workers, oncologists, physicians but also allied health – nurses, physiotherapists, all people that are involved in the care of older people. Secondly, we want to focus on clinical practice, we want to develop tools to help healthcare workers to evaluate older patients. We want to make guidelines for clinical practice so we want really to have as much information and knowledge to be spread out as possible. The third domain is research – we want to be a platform for research, to exchange ideas on research and, as such, further improve the outcomes and the care for older people with cancer.
What are the core activities of SIOG?
SIOG has several core activities and one of the most important is the SIOG guidelines. SIOG has established already 36 guidelines on the most important topics in oncology with a specific focus on what is different for older individuals. This is always multidisciplinary where we really gather all the information that is relevant for older adults and we put it in very concrete recommendations that can be used in clinical practice for any healthcare professional involved in the care of older people.
The second was the annual conference. The second core activity is our annual conference that we are doing since the year 2000. Every year we get more attendees and now it’s more than 500 attendees present. This is really the heart of SIOG, we are sitting together in meetings, there’s a huge amount of interaction between all the participants and this is where a lot of new ideas come for research and for collaborations.
A third core activity is The Journal of Geriatric Oncology. This has been established six or seven years ago with the goal of really publishing all relevant research on this topic. It has reached already an impact factor of 3.4 in only six or seven years so it shows that this is really an important domain and we want to spread the word through this journal.
A fourth core activity is the Treviso Advanced Course, this is a very specific and peculiar course for young oncologists, young physicians, young geriatricians that are highly motivated. We restrict the number of participants to thirty only because we want to have very close interaction with the faculty. This is a four or five day course where there is very close education for these young people and the goal is really when they go home that they also spread the message within their country or setting.
Then SIOG is also active in various domains like the nursing and allied health working group which is a working group of non-physicians but who are also very active in seeing how they can improve care through improved nursing or other activities. SIOG has a very, very active Young SIOG working group. This is the most active young group that I’ve ever seen in international organisations – they are extremely helping, they are involved in guideline development, in e-tool development, so this is quite unique I think.
Shall we go on to future plans?
Yes. For the future one of the first goals of SIOG is that we want to expand our knowledge to all healthcare professionals in oncology. The core goal of our society is that all oncologists become geriatric oncologists. Cancer is a disease that occurs in older people and about half of the population is above 65 years old at diagnosis. So nearly all oncologists, all healthcare professionals dealing with cancer see a lot of older people. So the principles that we are trying to develop need to be known by all healthcare professionals that are dealing with cancer patients.
The second goal for the future is that we want to expand much more in local organisations, in international organisations that are not dealing specifically with cancer in older adults because we believe that it’s such a frequent problem that it should be a core activity in all these settings and in all these organisations.
The third goal for the future is that we should evolve much more to collaborations with governments, with academic organisations, with the WHO, the United Nations, because cancer in older adults is really becoming an epidemic problem, a huge problem, because of the demographic changes in society.