BDRF  travelled to Nice for the European Society of Coloproctology’s annual conference – Europe’s biggest gathering of medical specialists in the field of bowel disease.

We have a big, bold vision to eradicate bowel disease, and to achieve it we need to work with medical professionals and the patients they serve from all over the world.

With some of the top scientists, surgeons, nurses and other specialists from all across the world in attendance we caught up with some cutting-edge research projects, promoted our own work and explored the scope for truly life-changing collaborations. The conference also played host to the final consensus meeting on a hugely important study to improve the lives of patients with LARs – which you can read more about here.

BDRF Chief Executive Peter Rowbottom comments;

“We came away from Nice feeling so energised about the potential for our research. There is such a vibrant community out there, comprising both medical professionals and the patients they serve. This means working together to improve people’s lives by developing optimum treatments, and we know we are a crucial part of that puzzle. “

Colorectal Disease launch an audit that will change the world

New technology and an increasingly connected world have massively broadened the horizons of what research studies can achieve. ESCP’s flagship audit of left colon, sigmoid and rectal resections published in Colorectal Disease and unveiled at the conference, provides a fantastic example. Their dataset of care pathways and outcomes for over 10,000 patients from countries all over Europe will inspire the research projects which save and change the lives of patients around the world. Led by BDRF Trustee Dion Morton and his Birmingham team, the snapshot audit has already spawned numerous research projects looking at how to prevent anastamotic leak, optimum surgical methods and more.

Collaborative audits like this give us the chance to change practice by learning from colleagues around the world. We were extremely excited to be at the launch of this key piece of work, and can’t wait to play our part in exploring the questions posed by its findings. It is also a massive chance for organisations like us to step up to the plate, delivering similar audits on a UK-wide basis (such as the NASBO and LGIB audits we have already carried out) and broadening our horizons out to work with European partners.

Crohn’s perianal fistula – so much more to do

Perianal fistula in Crohn’s disease blight lives, and present a massive challenge for surgeons and gastroenterologists to treat. BDRF’s landmark Delphi exercise identified improving care as a major priority, and the issue also took centre stage at ESCP.

A session on the second morning laid bare in stark fashion how big an issue this is. A European study suggested 73% of people with a Crohn’s anal fistula reported feeling depressed as a result, and 13% revealed they had experienced suicidal thoughts.

The good news is that research to improve the situation is ongoing – BDRF are funding the ENIGMA study, an ambitious attempt to re-write the rulebook on how doctors assess quality of life for patients and take action to improve it. New treatments are currently being developed, but the raw truth is we urgently need to understand far better how we can make a difference for patients, and do it fast. It was heartening to be in a room surrounded by specialists with the interests of patients at the forefront of their mind. Now we need to redouble our efforts, do more research and change people’s lives.

“Watch and wait”care for rectal cancer – BDRF funded work influencing practice across Europe.

A very proud moment for us was being in the hall to see Professor Andrew Renehan discuss a BDRF funded study which is influencing everyday practice in countries around Europe. The OnCoRe study, funded by BDRF back in 2013, was published in the Lancet last year and made a convincing case for sparing many rectal cancer patients surgery after chemoradiotherapy.

For a long time it was not considered safe to do this, however, Professor Renehan’s work suggested surgery could be avoided with no increased risk of recurrence in certain circumstances. Colleagues from around Europe discussed this at a symposium in the conference’s main hall. While it is not yet common practice for all, the influence of a study first funded by BDRF and our supporters and donors was clear. A real testament to how donating to us today could change clinical practice tomorrow.

Debating the best management options for IBD – UK playing a leading role

The conference ended with a debate on the optimum surgical management of ileocaecal IBD – with surgeons from Saint Mark’s in the UK and colleagues from Holland battling it out over the merits of their preferred technique. This followed a stimulating presentation on re-organisation of services from Omar Faiz of Saint Mark’s, where he argued some changes to how services are delivered, particularly centralising specialist procedures to certain hospitals, could lead to equal or even greater improvements in patient outcomes than clinical research in the short to medium term.

The 2017 European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) international snapshot audit of left colon, sigmoid and rectal resections, El‐Hussuna, A. , Chaudri, S. , Frasson, M. , Gallo, G. , Minaya, A. , Negoi, I. , Pata, F. , Sánchez‐Guillén, L. , Singh, B. , Glasbey, J. , Magill, L. , Mekic, D. , Nepogodiev, D. , Perry, R. , Bhangu, A. , Morton, D. , Altomare, D. , Bemelman, W. , Brown, S. , Buskens, C. , Denost, Q. , Knowles, C. , Laurberg, S. , Lefèvre, J. , Möeslein, G. , Pinkney, T. , Vaizey, C. and Zmora, O. (2018), The 2017 European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) international snapshot audit of left colon, sigmoid and rectal resections – study protocol. Colorectal Dis, 20: 5-12. doi:10.1111/codi.14377

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