Welcome to the Breast-Gynecological International Cancer Society (BGICS)

Intro text: 


At the last General Assembly of BIG in June 2014, six new research groups joined the organisation, further enlarging its international reach. One of these groups is the Breast-Gynecological International Cancer Society (BGICS). BIG HQ recently had the pleasure of interviewing Prof. Hesham Elghazaly, President of the BGICS.

Could you please give a brief description of your group?

BGICS ‘Breast-Gynecological International Cancer Society’ is a non-profit society aiming at promoting optimal standards of care for patients with breast and gynecological cancers. It represents a Committee of international and national members including medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, gynecologists, radiotherapists, radiologists, and pathologists exclusively dedicated to fostering international multidisciplinary collaboration, in order to highlight the updates on evidence-based practice and to generate guidelines for the management of breast and gynecological cancers. 

The BGICS was created in 2012, after frequent discussions and after monitoring the research needs in the region during the previous 3 years. Its mission can be divided into three main categories: education, research, and patient support. 

Every year in January the BGICS organises the "Breast–Gynecological International Cancer Conference” (BGICC). This is the only conference specialised in breast and gynecological cancers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. High-profile scientists from all over the world gather every year at the BGICC, to share ideas and knowledge. 
The conference’s ultimate goal is to ameliorate the prognosis and quality of life of patients affected by the disease by undertaking and supporting international initiatives and by sharing international experience in clinical trials set-up and management. The conference also aims to reach a consensus about the management of breast and gynecological cancers.

Why did your group join the BIG network and how do you hope to benefit from this affiliation?

The BGICS Board believes that collaboration with the BIG network, particularly with its member groups and their affiliated experts, will help us to convene with an international array of scientists, oncologists and clinicians who work together efficiently towards shared goals. Bringing worldwide breast cancer experts together adds to our dedication to foster the science of breast and gynecological oncology and improve the care of cancer patients and their families throughout the world. Our aim is to lessen the human suffering from cancer all over the world. 
Clinical research in the MENA region needs to be improved. We believe that it is essential for the MENA region to be more active in international clinical trials, especially because of its different epidemiological and genetic profile. We think that clinical trials need to be more international. The centers in our region should be  better represented in order to have access to those trials and to be involved in international breast cancer research.

What are the biggest challenges faced by your group in the scientific and research area?

The MENA region has a population of about 300-400 million people. Breast cancer represents a major health problem in this region. Different socioeconomic, epidemiologic and genetic factors contribute to its unicity.
Although clinical research in breast cancer has improved through the last decade with the creation of a number of working groups and the set-up of various annual conferences, our region still faces major challenges, including the:

- Lack of a research network that involves centers from the whole region

- Lack of funding to support regional clinical research

- Need to improve the infrastructure in clinical and translational research, mainly with respect to laboratories facilities

- Lack of a reliable regional cancer registry, including all the epidemiological, pathological and genetic data, to create our regional database for breast cancer

- Need to create regional guidelines to match our patient population, criteria, and unique presentation and disease behavior


What are the objectives of your group for your own region?

We consider ourselves as one of the leading scientific groups in breast cancer research in the MENA region, and we aim to improve clinical research by:

- Creating a data base and infrastructure for clinical research in Egypt and in the MENA region

- Establishing a breast cancer network that would ensure collaborative work throughout the region in clinical research and multicenter trials

- Designing clinical trials that handle the specific problems that oncologists and patients face in the region

-  Continuing to establish the BGICC consensus, to ensure the best clinical practice in management of breast cancer

- Establishing an access between the international cancer groups and oncologists in the MENA region who are involved in clinical research

- Improving the expertise of young oncologists in the region through multiple educational activities, grants and fellowships


What does international research collaboration mean for you?

International research collaboration is a way to exchange expertise and improve clinical research worldwide. Each region has its own epidemiological, genetic and socioeconomic criteria that need to be represented equally in order to have reliable results that fit for all patients. 
International collaboration reduces duplication of work in clinical research, and makes it possible to design large population clinical trials that allow different and sufficient subgroup analysis that will lead us to better and more reliable results. 
Collaborative work contributes to more rapid advances in clinical research. 
Our vision is that if we want to go far, we have to go together.


How are clinical trials conducted and managed under your group's leadership?

Clinical trials within the BGICS group are run and managed as follows:

    1. A clinical trial design and protocol is presented by one of the BGICS members or non-members (primary investigators)

    2. The trial and its design are then reviewed by the BGICS scientific and ethics committees

    3. If approved, the funding process is reviewed to detect the best funding source, and how to maintain it

    4. The trial concept is communicated to the collaborative network members, and/or other collaborative groups to try to conduct the study in a regional and/or international way

    5. Once the trial has started, research progress and funding management are regularly evaluated in order to ensure best practice (through internal and external auditing)   

    6. The results and data are reviewed by the Scientific Committee to ensure their reliability

    7. Once the results are approved, the data are published.

    8. The role of the BGICS Data and Safety Monitoring Committee (DSMC) is to oversee all aspects of data auditing, to verify data validity and integrity, and to ensure the safety of all participants in the clinical trials, including institutionally  sponsored, investigator- authored trials, and those trials without external monitoring. All clinical trials require auditing commensurate with the degree of risk involved in the study subject participation, as well as the size and complexity of the study. The DSMC audits all investigator-initiated research, and reviews safety reports (grade 3 and above), and protocol deviations for all BGICS studies

What have been, in your opinion, your group's biggest achievements or toughest challenges so far?

Our biggest achievements till now have been:

- Organising the annual BGICC, which is the largest breast cancer conference in the MENA region in terms of scientific content, number of attendees, and number of speakers

- The annual BGICC consensus for best clinical practice in breast and gynecological cancers

- Establishing the infrastructure necessary within BGICS to enable translational research 


Find more information about BGICS at