Approximately 90 GIST patients, relatives, GIST experts, interested professionals, physicians and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry gathered in Zurich on April 8, 2011 for the eighth meeting of the Swiss GIST group in the Restaurant Au Premier at Zurich Main Station (HB Zürich). A welcome was extended to special guests Anna Costato from Italy, Bertrand de la Comble from France, Candy Heberlein, President of the Swiss Foundation for the Promotion of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Christel Jäger-Freysoldt, Chief Executive of Das Lebenshaus in Germany. Representatives from Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis and Pfizer were also present. As always, it was a unique opportunity for the participants to learn about the latest insight into Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors and their treatment, as well as to meet experts. Markus Wartenberg from Das Lebenshaus excelled once again as the presenter. Everyone came to the meeting with their own expectations, and as always, neither participants nor organizers were disappointed. The panel of speakers gave very impressive presentations. As in prior years, simultaneous German/French or vice versa translation was provided.

Documentary: “Living with GIST”, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour, the model for purposeful treatment

The short documentary film “Living with GIST”, Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour, the model for purposeful treatment,” opened the Eighth Swiss GIST meeting. The DVD version was completed for the meeting and can be purchased. The aim of this film is to introduce GIST and the exemplary treatment successes to the public at large. The documentary film shows the route from correct diagnosis to treatment and dealing with this cancer, with the aid of case histories. It examines the worldwide networking of patients and physicians, and the collaboration between different medical disciplines and research. The focus of all these endeavors is the patient. Three patients talked about their experiences, their lives and their cancer histories, and provided audiences with room for hope.

2011 Topics

The topic of GIST was handled in two parts with cutting-edge presentations from the two international GIST specialists, Dr. Michael Montemurro and Dr. Peter Reichardt.

Dr. Michael Montemurro (consultant at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) in Lausanne and medical advisor to the Swiss GIST group) spoke about “Treatment for inoperable GIST: drugs, pharmacokinetics, compliance and open-label studies in Switzerland”. Dr. Peter Reichardt, Director of the Sarcoma Center in Berlin- Brandenburg, then presented a paper on “Adjuvant and experimental therapies”.

The third thrilling presentation was given by Dr. Dominik Weishaupt from Triemli Hospital in Zurich. His topic was “Imaging of GIST tumors; what we can display today and what we can expect in the future”.

A very special approach to metastasis surgery was taken by Dr. Markus Weber from Triemli Hospital in Zurich. In his impressive presentation on “The current importance of metastasis surgery”, he explained metastasis surgery notably in the liver with impressive images.

Vito Mediavilla, web master and GIST patient covered the topic, “Social Media”, which aroused a great deal of interest. Vito explained what we mean by Facebook, Twitter and a listserv. Finally, Dr. Philippe Fontaine, a general practitioner and GIST patient, gave a very personal presentation entitled “GIST: My friend!”, in which he described how he handles this disease.

The attentive audience demonstrated their appreciation for all of the presentations with resounding applause. This in turn also reflected the high quality of this annual national event.

Following presentations, the second general meeting of patients in the Swiss GIST group began under the support and guidance of Martin Wettstein, President of the Swiss GIST group. This association, which supports all those affected by GIST, was officially formed in January 2010 in Zug. Martin Wettstein presided over this second meeting with his usual aplomb and our sincere thanks go to him too for his work!

President Wettstein provided a worthy conclusion to the general meeting by appointing Dr. Michael Montemurro and Markus Wartenberg, as honorary members of the association. With a few well-chosen words and to resounding applause, Martin Wettstein presented both of them with a certificate of honorary membership.