Leading the way with ground-breaking anti-tobacco regulations, Australia’s foremost lung cancer authorities welcomed the chance to share insights and industry research with the international community in Sydney, Australia.
The World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) is the world’s largest meeting that is dedicated to lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies. Claiming the lives of more than 1.5 million people annually, lung cancer is the world’s seventh leading cause of death and a disease that is commanding increased international medical attention.
More than 5,000 world-renowned surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pulmonologists, radiologists, pathologists, epidemiologists, nurses and allied health professionals and patients from 93 countries participated in the four-day conference, which was held at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre.
With more than 50 keynote speaker sessions, 60 oral and mini oral sessions, and 1,500 poster presentations, the WCLC in Sydney provided invaluable opportunities for knowledge exchange and expert collaboration to further already world-leading local research that may save millions of lives in the future.
Program / event highlights
- The opening plenary session included a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony – an ancient custom conducted by Aboriginal elders that is held to officially welcome visitors to the land and help to ward off bad spirits, recognising the unique position of Aboriginal people in Australian culture and history.
- The Sydney WCLC was the first WCLC to include a patient advocacy group, Lung Foundation Australia, on the local organising committee (LOC).
- In her keynote speech titled You Can Take on the Tobacco Industry and Win, The Honourable Nicola Roxon, former Australian Minister for Health, spoke of her winning battle to institute plain packaging laws in Australia. These laws, which came into effect in December 2012, have put Australian policy at the forefront of the fight against lung cancer and smoking-related disease and have been recognised as an example for governments and health organisations all over the globe.
- 58 per cent of the 5,316 attendees were first-timers to the WCLC, with the Asia accounting for one third of the total number of delegates.
- Lung Foundation Australia hosted an interactive consumer forum for patients, their carers and families, with world leaders in lung cancer research, treatment, care and advocacy.
- The gala evening included Australian produce and wines, and a wildlife pen with Australian fauna such as a koala, kangaroo, wombat, and a lizard. Guests were impressed by an Indigenous dance performance and the night ended with a live band performing Australian classics and the world’s all-time favourite hits. Guests were asked to dress ‘Australian formal’ for the evening with iconic singlets, akubra hats and board shorts encouraged.
- Delegates were invited to participate in a series of optional tours, which included Sydney City Sights, Hunter Valley Wine, Blue Mountains and Port Stephens Dolphin Watch tours.
Outcomes and measurable impacts
There is a very real possibility that discoveries and connections made during WCLC in Sydney will result in new innovations and advances that may be able to change the future of medicine and healthcare, not just in Australia, but around the world. Legacies such as these may take years or even decades to come to light. However, here are some initial outcomes that are known to have come out of the 2013 Sydney conference:
- WCLC 2013 was the largest ever lung cancer meeting to be held in the Asia/Oceania region
feedback from almost 900 delegates showed that the conference was one of the most exciting and scientifically stimulating WCLCs
- the IASLC projects further growth in membership, especially in China and South America as a result of the Sydney event
- a record number of 2,316 abstracts were submitted and supported the scientific presentations at the conference, compared to 1,800 received for the 2011 conference
- recognition that Australia is a leader in lung cancer research and Australia’s track record as having the highest five?year survival rate in the world
- demonstrated the importance of patient involvement in the process and delivery of lung cancer conferences and provided an opportunity to learn new practices and ways of delivering care to patients
- highlighted the importance of advocacy to the extent that the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) Board will include advocacy as a stream in future conferences
- research collaborations that were fostered during the meeting will help to deliver important clinical trials over the next few years.
Partnerships for success
Business Events Sydney (BESydney) worked hand-in-hand with the local organising committee, the host body, IASLC, and the PCO, International Conference Services (ICS), to ensure the smooth and successful delivery of the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney.
From letters of support, site inspections, facilitated introductions, and marketing and event delivery support, to working with Sydney Airport to arrange dedicated welcome signage and liaising with customs and immigration to assist with visa applications, BESydney provided support every step of the way.
As with any major event, the WCLC encountered challenges in the two-year lead up to the event. However, having worked with WCLC since 2003, ICS was well-versed in the specific needs of the event and with BESydney’s specialised local knowledge, support and connections, the parties worked in partnership to ensure a successful outcome for the Sydney event.
WCLC 2013 Conference Chair, Clinical Professor Michael Boyer AM, Chief Clinical Officer, Lifehouse (Sydney Cancer Centre), said, “Working with ICS and Business Events Sydney to deliver the World Conference on Lung Cancer was a great experience. It truly highlighted to me the importance of having an experienced and cohesive team to make events such as this one a success.”
Mathias Posch from Canadian-based International Conference Services Ltd, added: “It was a great pleasure to work with the outstanding professionals at Business Events Sydney and the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. WCLC 2013 was a prime example of what can be accomplished in a true collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including exemplary local conference presidents, colleagues at Business Events Sydney and the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, and a long-term partner in the IASLC, who has put their trust in ICS for many years.
“Through fantastic teamwork this WCLC will be remembered as one of the most successful and Team Sydney played a major part in that achievement.”