Soha Ahrari - ISOPP - What I learned

This year, ISOPP took place in Santiago, Chile. Although the conference started off with a bang (that is, flash flooding across the city), attendees didn’t notice the weather while nestled in the conference hotel. If you missed ISOPP, I highly recommend checking out their Twitter hashtag, #isopp2016, where attendees posted slides, insights, and comments throughout the conference. Here’s a few gems that I really enjoyed: 
  1. Dr Vandenbroucke shared the formula for preparing dose-banded medications:
  • Let X = use of dosage in last 4 weeks 
  • Let Y = maximum proven stability (days)
  • Formula: (X/28)*(Y/2) ←simple, but gets the job done! 
  1. Always look at the fine print - of Natural Health Products that is. You never know when you will find a nasty surprise like cyclophosphamide!
  2. Treatment-induced alopecia is a huge concern for both women AND men - there’s a lot of social stigma associated with this hair loss. Up to 8% of patients refuse treatment because of the alopecia risk. 
  3. Technology is the great equalizer. Malaysian pharmacists, faced with low staffing issues and lack of time for oral anti-cancer medication education, have their patients fill out medication diaries and send photos via Whatsapp so they can continue to monitor them from afar. 
  4. No matter where you are in the world, human problems are still the same. The social stigma of cancer is a barrier to cancer care everywhere from Malaysia to Canada. Stories shared included:
  • A women being stopped from seeking breast cancer treatment by her husband as he wanted to protect her from the eyes of other men
  • A teen whose father stopped critical discussions with the care team regarding her fertility during cancer treatment
…and many more. The bottom line is that despite large disparities in access to care around the world, our patients have many of the same challenges. Unfortunately, disparities in access to care continues to be an issue. To quote one of our South African colleagues “where you live should not determine your treatment outcome”. It’s difficult for us as Canadians to remember the larger access issues that our international colleagues face while we are struggling to navigate our own system.
Although there was a lot that I learned during this conference that will aid me in my day-to-day practice, I think the largest piece  I’ll continue to carry with me is that I’m thankful to live in Canada, where those that need care will get it. And what can I do as a global citizen? Other than sharing resources and information, an easy thing to continue ensuring we aren’t wasting drugs that we have. Studying and extending stability data is one way of reducing drug wastage so more medications can get to other countries. 
Thank you CAPhO for helping me get to ISOPP this year. I highly recommend applying for #isopp2017 - next year, it’s in Budapest, Hungary!