The Treviso course developed by Silvio Monfardini and Giuseppe Colloca, and supported also by Lodovico Balducci, represented a new and novel attempt to hit this target, allowing to have young geriatricians and oncologists working together in a short intensive course(1). This kind of class focused exclusively on topics that would promote interdisciplinary collaboration between geriatrics and oncology. This Treviso Advanced SIOG Course in geriatric oncology was in fact developed with an international faculty of both medical oncologists and geriatricians through exposure to the essentials of each specialty and simulations of clinical situations(2). The course was opened to a limited number of trainees in geriatrics and oncology (or young specialists who had graduated within the past five years). After common introductory lectures, in separate sessions, geriatric faculty provided firsthand instruction in the basic elements of geriatric medicine for clinical oncologists, and clinical oncology faculty provided parallel oncological instruction for geriatricians. Afterwards, members of the faculty chaired joint discussion sessions with both groups of trainees who presented actual clinical cases with the aim of comparing the ways of determining the integrated patient care. The students spent therefore five days with leading experts in geriatric oncology in order to learn more about collaboratively managing the primary types of tumors that occur in older patients. To allow close contact with the members of the faculty, a limited number (around 30) of young specialists in geriatrics and oncology were accepted. Each student could choose a mentor from the faculty who would be available to help them start new programs in their native country, as well as to support them in future endeavors.
These annual courses began in July 2014 through the joint action of the Geriatric Department of the Catholic University in Rome and SIOG, along with the sponsorship of ASCO and the essential support of the European School of Oncology, and were held inside a villa of Treviso which is near Venice. The last one was recently held in early July this year.
The end results have been those of providing participants the necessary knowledge and communication skills to establish or redefine geriatric oncology practice as an integrated and interdisciplinary process in their native countries. Positive comments have been also published from students participating to these initiatives(3).
In conclusion, the Treviso Course represents a successful model for the development of a dialog between geriatricians and oncologists, and it was endorsed enthusiastically by virtually all the participants from several different countries of Europe, East Asia, Latin America, and from USA. The hope is that these young geriatricians and clinical oncologists will be advocates and practitioners of the integrative approach in their countries.
On the basis of the teaching experience of the Treviso SIOG Course, before the pandemic, Monfardini and Colloca have been traveling as visiting professors throughout Italy in several general hospitals and the main cancer institutes. After illustrating the advantage and results of the cooperation between oncologists and geriatricians, they have been asking the cancer specialists but also other physicians of these hospitals: 1) what they did there for their older cancer patients, and 2) what were their plans for the future for the optimal management of elderly cancer patients in that hospital.
This type of visiting professorship was quite well received and should possibly be extended in other European hospitals.