EAU24: Catching up with Secretary General Prof. Stenzl

With the EAU successfully concluding its 39th Annual Congress in Paris, 5-8 April, we caught up with Secretary General Prof. Arnulf Stenzl (AT). EAU24 was also the first Annual Congress “on his watch”, as he formally succeeded Prof. Chris Chapple in Milan last year.

Fri, 19 Apr 2024
Prostate CancerBladder CancerOncologyEAU 24Secretary GeneralStenzlAnnual EAU CongressEAU ExecutiveEAU Scientific Congress CommitteeEAU Membership Office

This year, we welcomed over 10,000 participants in Paris, another jump from EAU23 and the highest attendance figures since 2019. What does this mean for the EAU?

We were already carefully expecting a healthy number of delegates, due to the high number of abstract submissions. Those are always an indication of interest in research, be it clinical or scientific. Generally speaking, this all translates to high interest in attending Europe’s largest urology event, in-person. That’s definitely a good feeling for us, also that we are increasing year over year since covid, which is not the same for every scientific event.

It's clear that our meeting is accepted in the urological community: people are willing to travel, are interested in seeing high-quality scientific lectures and presentations, all the late-breaking results, visiting the exhibition, all of it in person. They want to show their work, look at others’. Prof. Peter Albers and the Scientific Congress Office succeeded in creating a format that encourages in-person attendance: up-to-the-minute breaking news, a lot of exclusives, and a chance for interactive discussion of these hot topics.

As Secretary General, you moderated a lot of the “wrap-up”, souvenir sessions. Did you identify any major themes at this year’s Congress?

For urologists, there is always the oncology/non-oncology dichotomy. In the uro-oncology field, we saw a lot of attention for prostate cancer imaging. This is really a major topic, especially because it recently became part of the European Commission’s Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and our Policy Office is leading the field with the PRAISE-U project. Imaging plays a big role there, as well as PSA, and new urinary and blood markers.

Getting an MRI could be simplified and shortened, you can really shorten the time it takes to get an MRI done from 45 to 10-20 minutes by using different contrast materials. Pilot studies are already showing nice results. Screening and imaging are not only a question of treatment but also the earliest possible detection. PSMA-PET/CT or PET/CT alone also play a role.

The thematic session on the Lancet Commission showed a world map, the global future of prostate cancer and its treatment. It is expected that the number of new cases will double between 2020 and 2040. This was a really important session: it brought together a group of oncologists, urologists and radiotherapists all making a strong commitment to early detection. For some parties, this represents a major shift, but I’m proud to say that the EAU has been leading the field in this regard for around a decade now.

We had a very well-attended “Rapid-fire” session on bladder cancer on Friday. It not only gave an indication of current developments but also impressed on the delegates that we need to be aware of BCa as an important disease, costly, and potentially very dangerous. This type of session was also carried over for kidney cancer: short, to-the-point important messages from at least two discussants, followed by a structured discussion. These kinds of sessions are well-liked and an example of something people would like to have when they physically attend the congress.

We also presented a very exciting look at the future of urology in one of Saturday’s Plenary Sessions. How can AI help us, for instance for decision-making in surgery, better results in imaging, and better understanding and consenting for our patients. That session also looked at the “green hospital”, urging us to take better care of our resources while maintaining the quality of care. Those were really exciting and eye-opening additions to the scientific programme.

It also made us think of the future of urology in a wider sense, the changes we’re going to see as a discipline. What will the urologist be doing in ten years? Only surgery or should he or she be aware that surgery and intervention isn’t everything? There needs to be more thought about systemic treatment around an ablative intervention, i.e. to see many treatments as a package.. Not just in an oncological sense but also within non-oncology: avoiding interventions, and prolonging time until intervention is necessary.

Many treatment suggestions will be decided by a team, such as the multidisciplinary tumour board, the pelvic floor reconstructive group and so on. Since the diagnostic part is very often done by the urologists he or she should continue to be in the “driver’s seat” for the decisions brought to the patients. With the EAU’s support, this can only be achieved by education, and the motivation of urologists to make this additional effort.

This being your first congress as Secretary General, it must have meant some extra ceremonial duties for you. How did you manage those?

Thankfully it wasn’t completely new for me, as Secretary General-elect you have something of a roll-in phase before you formally take over. This was of course a big duty! There’s a certain weight on your shoulders, but we have to serve the delegates and our members and we do so as a team. We have such an extremely efficient team at the EAU Central Office in Arnhem and great support from colleagues in the various offices of the EAU. As Secretary General at the congress, it can also be nice to keep your ear to the membership and get a lot of feedback of how we’re doing.

That’s incidentally what we’ve been doing over the past year: assessing our strengths and weaknesses, how we should adapt our Association’s structures, and paying more attention to the needs of the majority of our members. A rejuvenation of our Association is essential, and in the coming years we will see the fruits of that.

If you enjoyed this look back at EAU24 and want to read other congress-related news, you can explore the EAU24 News feed for more!