As Interventional Oncology Evolves, So Does CIO

Shaun Samuelsm MD

Interventional oncology (IO) represents the possibility of a paradigm shift in cancer therapy. Replacing surgical therapy with non-surgical options for cure, and challenging the orthodoxy of systemic chemotherapy for the control of metastatic disease, IO, while still in its relative infancy, holds the promise of making the lives of cancer patients better both during and after treatment. It gives practitioners and patients alike a glimpse into a future world that considers not only the harsh statistics on overall survival, but also the more nuanced notion of quality of life during treatment: difficult to quantify, but potentially more important than overall survival itself. 

The opportunities for those interested in joining the fight against cancer through targeted, minimally invasive therapy are many: improved and improving biopsy techniques, the burgeoning field of personalized medicine, and therapy that is not only anatomically but antigenically targeted as the science of cancer biology continues to yield clues into its remaining deadly mysteries. Greater participation among specialists in IO will continue to amass valuable data that will allow further strides to be made and therapies to be improved.


The Symposium on Clinical Intervention Oncology (CIO) is an incredibly fun meeting that has, from the outset, attempted to create a mood or vibe that separates it from other meetings: one with a looser dialogue, perhaps a little less polite, not content to stand on ceremony in the face of faculty clinging to biases and shibboleths. CIO has always been free-wheeling and casual, replacing the mind-numbing, staid drone of many academic meetings with pointed but good-spirited banter.
Our focus has always been case based rather than data driven. When CIO was first conceived, it was designed to be a response to meetings weighed down by PowerPoint presentations replete with tables and graphs that, within a slide or two, leave the audience dazed and a tad confused. While data are crucial to drive decisions and determine truth, inundating folks with them, rather than succinctly and responsibly summarizing them, does little good. CIO has invariably striven to present practical, real-world data and techniques, packaged in a form both digestible and entertaining. 


The course directors for CIO have prided themselves in keeping the roster of guest course directors rotating and fresh over the past 8 years. We’d like to give a special shout-out to both Matt Callstrom and Bob Lewandowski, our immediate past Guest Directors, who were outstanding in every way in cultivating great meetings and lending added legitimacy by bringing in the best faculty from around the world. 
In keeping with their standard of excellence, Ziv Haskal and Chuck Ray are coming on board, both recognized throughout the world as leading forces in interventional radiology, and interventional oncology specifically. 
Dr Haskal has done everything there is to do in the world of IR, and notably, is the longtime editor of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. There is no better informed and engaged interventionalist anywhere, and we are lucky to have him, and his provocative and energizing ideas, as a leader of CIO. He is no stranger to our meeting, having filled a central role every year since the meeting’s inception. His stage presence and charisma are undeniable, and his ability to stimulate honest conversation and to bring out hidden truths and uncover myths is unrivaled in our specialty. 

Dr Ray is the current president of the Society of Interventional Radiology, which should give everyone an idea of the quality we are bringing to CIO. He is a notoriously straight shooter and a trenchant wit, with a winning sense of deadpan humor. He is widely published on most of the bedrock topics in IO, with a special focus on radioembolization. He was a newcomer as a faculty member at CIO last year, and we were all very pleased that he accepted the larger role in the meeting this year. 
It is hard to imagine a meeting, especially one that originated in a private-practice environment without a national presence in the world of IO, having the kind of “street cred” that we have gained over the years. And having Ziv Haskal and Chuck Ray on the marquis puts an exclamation point on that status, helping to keep CIO at the forefront of national meetings in this field. 


Every year, we revamp the program, so it is inherently exciting to see new sessions put into practice. For example, this year, we have a Tumor Bootcamp session, emphasizing practical preparation and execution rather than “binders” of data. We are also expanding our look at precision medicine and the role of tissue in designing therapies. Although this technology is still in its infancy, staying abreast of these developments and reminding the rest of the medical community what the IO skillset adds to the mix may prove pivotal in solidifying the role of catheter-based treatment in the armamentarium of cancer treatment. It is the shared philosophy of most interventionalists that patients deserve to explore less-invasive and better-tolerated treatments.  
Keeping with the practical bent of the meeting, we have also added sessions on practice building and palliative treatments, both important aspects of the broader picture of IO practice. Although these topics have been represented in past meetings, it has been a while since they have been brought to the fore, and it is fitting that both practice building and palliativ treatments be brought in together, as the burgeoning IO field demands this information. 


I’ve been very fortunate to have taken the lead role in the first 8 years of CIO, and I am very proud of what we have accomplished. I had attended meetings where presentations conflicted with one another and the attendee comes away with more questions than answers. We have built a meeting that gives attendees practical knowledge. I will still be deeply involved in CIO, but the baton for the program has been handed over to James Benenati and Constantino Peña from the Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute. They are my longtime partners and we can all see from the high quality of this year’s program that the meeting is in good hands.