In September 2023, the 34th World Congress of the International Association of Surgeons, Gastroenterologists, and Oncologists (IASGO) was held in Verona, Italy. Two scientists from Latvia also took part in it - Mārcis Leja, director of the Institute of Clinical and Preventive Medicine of the University of Latvia (LU KPMI), professor, gastroenterologist, and Linda Mežmale, a researcher and resident doctor in gastroenterology at the University of Latvia KPMI, who won the "Young Researcher Award" after the presentation.

The director of LU KPMI, professor Mārcis Leja, gave two lectures: "New perspectives for early diagnosis in colorectal cancer", where information was provided about the clinical activities of the HYCOR or "Hybrid-sensor breath analysis for colorectal cancer screening" project. The aim of this study is to develop a mathematical model for the detection of colorectal cancer and to evaluate the sensor performance of a specially designed device for the detection of this disease.
During the presentation, Professor Mārcis Leja emphasized that there are still certain differences in the epidemiology and survival of colorectal cancer patients between EU member states - it is improving, however, the differences are significant. One of the reasons is late detection of diseases. Although since 2003 EU countries have introduced screenings for three types of cancer, including colorectal cancer, not all of the recommendations have been followed due to various circumstances. In addition, the data show that in some EU countries colorectal cancer (CRC) is becoming more and more common in younger people, so screening should be done sooner, starting at the age of 40. Speaking about the methods used in CRV cancer screening, the professor noted that blood tests, microbiome or so-called volatile exhalation markers could be used in the near future, which are being actively researched by LU KPMI in the HYCOR project.
The second presentation by M. Leja - "Early detection of gastric cancer" - it used data from the study TOGAS or On the way to the implementation of gastric cancer screening in the European Union. In this project, under the leadership of LU KPMI scientists, more than 20 partners from 14 European countries are working on guidelines for the implementation of gastric cancer screening and recommendations for evaluating the effectiveness of screening.
On the other hand, LU KPMI researcher Linda Mežmale presented the scientific results of the HYCOR project on the topic "The importance of volatile organic compounds in colorectal cancer tissue and exhaled air, in colorectal cancer patients". Her work in research was also appreciated by the organizers of the congress, who awarded L. Mežmale with the "YOUNG INVESTIGATOR AWARD".
Commenting on the award, L. Mežmale said: "I am very grateful and happy to receive this award, especially considering that it was received at such an important and large-scale event as IASGO 2023. I would like to thank all my colleagues with whom I work side by side at LU KPMI in the scientific team for many years, and I believe that this award is a merit of our joint work."
IASGO is the International Association of Surgeons, Gastroenterologists and Oncologists, founded in 1988. Today it has more than 1700 members from more than 90 countries of the world. The organization's mission is the globalization of medical knowledge and experience through a well-structured system of continuing medical education. IASGO believes that medical knowledge belongs to every human being and should be accessible to every patient trying to survive a complex and life-threatening illness.
The newly formed IASGO Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Consortium for Oncology aims to improve diagnosis and increase the feasibility and effectiveness of treatment. It also aims to make available treatments more accessible, improve patients' quality of life and compliance with therapy and follow-up, thereby optimizing the use of resources.

This project has received funding from the European Union programme EU4Health under Grant Agreement No 101101252

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