Brian Rini and Thomas Powles are documenting genitourinary oncology history in a new series on the Uromigos podcast.   

“People don’t know the early stories,” Rini, chief of clinical trials, Ingram Professor of Medicine, and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, said to The Cancer Letter. “We’ll say, ‘Take us back to your early faculty days and what you were doing. How’d you get interested in GU cancer?’ Everybody has a really interesting route.” 

In the Uromingos podcast, Rini and co-host Powles, professor of genitourinary oncology, lead for solid tumour research, and director of Barts Cancer Centre in London, focus on the latest developments in GU oncology. 

So far, they have interviewed five GU oncologists about their early work and contributions to the field: Nick Vogelzang, Maha Hussain, Dean Bajorin, Phil Kantoff, and Larry Einhorn

The Uromigos “Legends of GU Oncology” series is part of a growing number of podcasts focusing on cancer history, which also includes ASCO’s Your Stories: Conquering Cancer, and Cancer History Project editorial board member Daniel F. Hayes’ series on the Journal of Clinical Oncology’s Cancer Stories

In an episode with Einhorn, the oncologist who pioneered a curative treatment for testicular cancer describes being invited to present his abstract at the ASCO annual meeting in 1976. 

“It’s unbelievable… He talks about how he got a postcard from ASCO about his plenary session for his cisplatin data, which changed oncology, and he didn’t even know what plenary meant. Also, it was on a postcard,” Rini said. 

In the podcast, Einhorn, now the distinguished professor Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology, and professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, described receiving the invitation to present at the ASCO plenary in Toronto:

“Back then, there were no computers. You would send a little postcard with the abstract and you would have a little box to check about whether you wanted it to be an oral presentation or a poster. You got to choose what you want.” 

“The abstract was sent together with a self addressed stamped postcard to send back to me—and I get this post card back saying ‘accepted.’” Einhorn said in the podcast. “I said ‘that’s nice.’ and then it said ‘plenary session.’ I had no idea what a plenary session is. I had to look up the word plenary session.”  

Rini and Powles are planning to run the series about two to three times each year, when they’re not otherwise hosting debates, discussing a paper of the month, or reviewing the data from meetings like ASCO and ASCO GU, where they talk with first authors of important abstracts.

“We’re just looking for prominent people in the field who are good speakers and who have a multi-decade perspective on a disease,” Rini said. “To me, that’s the most interesting. Those early days, as they were cutting their teeth on whatever drugs they were studying, or how they got interested in a disease.” 

There is no algorithm for choosing the next guest. 

“If you think there’s some master strategy here, you’re sadly mistaken,” Rini said. “Usually, Tom and I will talk about it and say, ‘Gee, these have done pretty well. What about so-and-so?” People love it. I get nothing but good feedback.”

Rini said he enjoys the flexibility of the podcast, too. 

“Unlike sitting down and reading something, you can do it on your own time. You can listen to a bunch on a long drive or a run,” he said. “It’s very bite-sized.” 

“We just want to get the word out. We want to broaden our listening base.”