Roobol to tackle decision-making challenges in urology in Erasmus Trustfonds inaugural lecture

15 January 2018 By Joel Vega

Renowned expert lecturer Prof. Monique Roobol will  examine the challenges in  using decision-making models in urology and the role of acquiring big data in prostate cancer detection and treatment in her inaugural lecture as endowed professor at the Erasmus Medical Centre (MC)-  Faculty of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

To be held on Friday, March 2, 2018, at the University’s Auditorium, the inaugural lecture marks Roobol’s appointment by the Erasmus Trustfonds as endowed professor of ‘Decision Making in Urology’. The lecture is open to the public.

Titled “The Second Drop,” Roobol’s lecture takes off from a Dutch expression (‘De tweede druppel’) which refers to the identical features shared by two persons, similar to the English idiom ‘two peas in a pod.’

“In my lecture I refer to the patient who is facing a medical decision. What he/she (and the attending physician) would like to know is what happened to a similar person with similar disease characteristics. This is what we try to quantify with individual risk stratification models, and in the context of urology, “ said Roobol. “Obviously, I will mention our prostate cancer risk calculator as an example, and will stress the importance of having access to ample data to develop such tools , that is, in terms of cooperation in national, international and global levels.”

Besides the role of risk prediction models, Roobol stressed the importance of shared decision- making. “Patients actually talking things over with their doctor and the patient’s wish remain equally crucial,” she added. She noted that both patient and physician encounter various dilemmas on the medical pathway such as in testing, treatment and stopping treatment, amongst others.

“We all know that having the availability of relevant information for that particular decision will help to get insight into the consequences of each decision,” said Roobol, who has lectured in many international congresses for her research work and involvement in prostate cancer studies, including controversial issues such as PSA screening and active surveillance.

Asked to comment on the challenges she faced in her research career, Roobol mentioned that focus is essential.

“What is vital is to invest in a certain project and avoid what we sometimes call hype-hopping, which is switching one’s research interest constantly. The ERSPC study, which is without doubt the basis of my scientific career, meant 18 years of hard work before the first results could be published,” she said.

A challenge in medicine, Roobol said is to develop, validate and implement decision-making models in various fields.

“Prostate cancer is a field in urology where these models are amply available and relatively well-developed (although often external validations are lacking which hamper implementation). In other fields of urology like incontinence and andrology issues, such models are scarce or even non-existing,” she explained.

She said the main challenge now is in starting decision-making research in different areas of urology,  while refining those in the field of prostate cancer by initiating cooperation on national, international and global levels.

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