President's Message

Well a trip to the US for a month was certainly eye opening with regards to the delivery of treatment for Head and Neck Cancer in another first world country.  There were a lot of differences in the structure of the health care system which is always topical but it struck me that the patients were incredibly similar.  Often understandably stressed people dealing with malignancy in one of the most complicated areas of the body.  On top of that they face the challenge of navigating a complicated network of clinicians.  It’s amazing that so many are so positive!

Please read the report attached to this newsletter and if your own career permits, take the time to visit other cities and other countries.  Collaboration and sharing experiences with other clinicians is one of the best ways to improve our care.

The other main issue facing the society is our transition from an Incorporated Association registered in New South Wales to a Company Limited by Guarantee.  The notice for the extraordinary general meeting required to exact that change will be sent shortly.  Please read it carefully and I hope you will attend both the Annual General Meeting, and Extraordinary General Meeting in Auckland.  A big thanks must go to the executive who have been working away behind the scenes to modernize the constitution, and ensure a seamless transition.

In the last three months the executive undertook a tender process for secretariat duties and as a consequence of that review it is time to farewell our previous secretariat (AMAQ Queensland).  I am sure many of you will have had dealings with Jennifer Burgess who served the society well for years.   We now welcome Patricia Chew of “The Association Specialists”.  The team there are helping us to get our house in order.  No doubt some of you will have received multiple reminders to renew (even after renewing) and I must apologise for the technical issue and assure you we are sorting those details.

I hope you will have noticed the website is enlarging regularly with improved content and out of date information being regularly tidied.

With one of our key goals being collaboration and education your Society has its annual scientific meeting.  This year to be held with the IFHNOS world tour in Auckland.  We are indeed fortunate to have the IFHNOS speakers, in conjunction with our local experts and free papers combining for a great program.

Thanks must go to John Chaplin and his team for the logistics and I hope you will take the time to join us.

Martin Batstone

ANZHNCS ASM & The International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies (IFHNOS) 2016 World Tour

25-27 October 2016
The Langham Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand


Click here to register online.


We encourage you to make accommodation arrangements as soon as possible.

Please note the room block for the meeting has been fully allocated. Please click here for availability at The Langham Auckland. Meeting rates at The Langham Auckland cannot be guaranteed.

Waldorf St. Martins Apartments Hotel is walking distance to The Langham Auckland. Click here for further information.

For other accommodation options, please click here.


The Chris O’Brien Oration will be presented by Dr Bryan McIver from the USA in the opening session on Tuesday 25 October. Dr McIver will present on New Guidelines from the American Thyroid Association:  A Personalized Approach to Thyroid Cancer Management.
ANZHNCS Research Foundation Grant applicants Dr Kendrick Koo and Dr Tami Yap will also present in the ANZHNCS Research Foundation Session.
Medical, allied health, nursing and free paper concurrent sessions have also been incorporated into the program.

Academic Faculty Members

Faculty members comprise of local and international speakers with keynote speakers including:

  • Dr Bryan McIver, Endocrinologist, USA
  • Professor Jatin Shah, Head & Neck Surgeon, USA
  • Professor Ashok Shaha, Head & Neck Surgeon, USA
  • Professor Carol Bradford, Otolaryngologist, USA
  • Dr David Brizel, Radiation Oncologist, USA
  • Dr Claudio Cernea, Head & Neck Surgeon, Brazil
  • Professor Robert Ferris, Otolaryngologist, USA
  • Dr Lisa Licitra, Medical Oncologist, Italy

Meeting Organisers

T: +61 3 9249 1260



Chris O'Brien Travelling Fellowship

From the 24th of June to the 20th of July 2016 I was privileged to undertake the Chris O’Brien Travelling fellowship to the United States culminating in the AHNS 9th International meeting in Seattle, Washington.

The logistics of a month away from work are daunting to say the least but I was fortunate to be recently joined at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in our department by another full time Head and Neck Surgeon (Dr Scott Borgna) which allowed me to at least travel knowing that operations were still happening, new patients were being seen and old patients reviewed.  

My day to day work focusses on oral cavity cancer, salivary gland, some oropharyngeal cancer and both primary and secondary reconstructive surgery so it was with these interests in mind that I chose the three American hospitals to visit.  Contact was made over 12 months from the visit and timing and communication of course is key to make sure the individuals you wish to interact with are not away from work themselves.

My first stop was the MD Anderson Hospital in Houston Texas.  The chair, Dr Randal Weber was instrumental in setting up the Chris O’Brien travelling fellowship and one of the attendees (Dr Michael Kupferman) was the 2014 Travelling Fellow to Australia.

Houston itself was flat, hot and far greener than expected.  Frequent thunderstorms and humidity reminded me of Brisbane in summer!

I had chosen the MD Anderson because I thought a visit to a very large American cancer centre with a strong research focus would be eye opening for an Australian where the population is less than 10% of the USA.  

In that respect I was certainly not disappointed.  The MD Anderson Cancer centre is a large hospital in itself, but resides within a complex of other large hospitals which seem to cover several square kilometres making up the “Texas Medical Centre”.  Apparently 21 hospitals in total!

The MD Anderson is a cancer specific hospital and the Head and Neck Department occupies a whole floor.  There were 16 attending surgeons in the surgical department but clinics were held concurrently with Radiation Oncology and Medical Oncology in the outpatient’s department.  Reconstructive surgery was undertaken by the Plastic Surgery department.  New cases of Head and Neck and Thyroid were around the three thousand mark per year which is approximately triple the throughput of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.  Needless to say with such an extensive case load all sub specialities were covered and each of the attendees had specific interests but the crossover was greater than expected in such a large department.  Some of the surgical staff appointments were part time research with protected time for lab work or other activities.

The Head and Neck MDT was attended by all Surgeons, Radiation oncology and Medical oncology.  Although the throughput was rapid I was impressed by the attempt to recruit all attending patients in a clinical trial with that discussion often taking some time.  I was pleased to see that although the volume of patients was much greater, with the exception of a Proton Therapy Machine, the facilities in our public system in Queensland at least were equivalent to those on offer in the best of US Hospitals.  What is not as evident at home though was the research focus and the willingness of a hospital or health system to employ clinicians specifically to undertake research.    The integration between Universities, research institutes and clinicians in Australia leaves much to be desired despite steps in the right direction.

Next stop was Head and Neck Surgical associates (led by Dr Eric Dierks and Dr Brian Bell) in Portland Oregon.  This is a group of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and Otorhinolaryngologists who have had a number of Australian fellows over the years and practice in one of the nicest parts of the US I have visited.  I had decided to come here to get a better understanding of Virtual Surgical Planning which is in use for every composite reconstructive case (and a number of deformity cases as well).  Although it has been used in our unit and others in Australia its cost makes its integration prohibitive currently.   Dicom CT data is used to fabricate models and a web based planning session is undertaken for each patient which leads to the generation of 3D printed models and customized plating with cutting guides etc.  It is certainly a streamlined system in the Providence group of hospitals with enviable results.  The challenge for Australians is to bypass some of the more costly aspects of the process which is no doubt the way of the future.  Since returning to Australia I was pleased to discover our hospital had appointed a 3D modeller (a person!) with a high quality printer and he already has 3 job orders from our department.  The other strength of Portland is as a hub for immunotherapy with one of the most integrated research institutes I have ever seen.  I attended their lab meeting on Friday morning where there were multiple clinicians (surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists) in attendance with lab scientists.  As a weekly occurrence it seemed quite unique to me.

Portland is famous for its microbreweries which are certainly spectacular and I gave a lecture at one on the “Use of Radiotherapy in Intermediate Oral Cavity SCC” to the HNSA group and other head and neck specialists from the Oregon Health and Science University.   Not too many IPA’s were consumed as another lecture was delivered the next morning on “Alternative composite free flaps” to the reconstructively minded trainees and consultants.  

The final hospital on my fellowship was the University of Washington Medical Centre in Seattle Washington.  It is headed up by Dr Neal Futran but I also had the opportunity to join his colleagues Dr Jeffery Holton and Dr Eduardo Mendez.  Dr Futran is well know from his publications and international teaching on the AOCMF program.  It was useful to ‘pick his brains’ about difficult cases and tap into what is clearly a vast experience.  Dr Mendez is flying the flag for transoral robotic surgery and his lecture on Friday of the week was very informative with regards to setting up a robotic service.  The University of Washington team put on a pre-conference workshop on the Friday prior to the AHNS meeting with a focus on reconstructive surgery.  I felt very lucky to attend and hear international experts such as Dr Mark Urken (Paediatric free flap surgery) and Dr Ralph Gilbert (Midface recon).  Probably the most eye opening talk was by a speech pathologist arguing for esophageal speech as a method of voice restoration.  The argument was particularly powerful as she had had a laryngectomy!

The 9th International AHNS meeting was held at the Washington Convention centre and the educational program was of its usual high standard.  It was also great to catch up with colleagues from Australia, Europe and the USA.  The conference rounded off my trip to the USA and after one month of living out of a suitcase I was ready to head home.

I am incredibly grateful to the ANZHNCS and AHNS for bestowing the Chris O’Brien travelling fellowship on me.  I feel that it came at the right time of my career and has left me with several things.  Firstly, some new friends on the other side of the Pacific, new ideas for research, an understanding of a different health system, and a list of improvements that can be made within our own service at home.  Finally, I am grateful to the American clinicians who hosted me and patients who allowed me to attend their clinics and operations.  I am sure that my constant questioning was occasionally annoying but they had the good grace to pretend it wasn’t.

Martin Batstone


Grants Sub-Committee Report

The subcommittee received 9 applications for consideration and following review have awarded the Developing Nations Visitor Scheme to Dr Mahesh Sultania, a surgeon with a special interest in HN surgery and microvascular reconstruction from Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India. Dr Sultania has arranged visits at both Princess Alexandra Hospital, University of Queensland, with Dr Ben Panizza and the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute, with Prof Jonathan Clark.

The Travelling Lectureship Grant has been awarded to Dr Nina Irawati a Head and Neck Oncology Surgeon from Jakarta, Indonesia with a special interest in thyroid, endoscopic, robotic, oral cancer, larynx , ameloblastoma and skin cancer. Dr Irawati has arranged a visit at the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute with Prof Jonathan Clark.

We look forward to welcoming Dr Sultania and Dr Irawati to Auckland.

Julia McClean

Merran Findlay


ANZHNCS Research Foundation Update

Message from Associate Professor David Wiesenfeld, Chairman ANZHNCS Research Foundation (Aus)

How do we define success in our professional lives? We all view our professional challenges differently, trying to establish our goals, achieving them and then re-aligning our future goals.

My own personal goals have evolved in the last 5 years, progressively accepting the responsibility of supporting Head and Neck research within the Royal Melbourne Hospital, and more recently within the newly opened Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Parkville Precinct. Our partners include the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and its Research Institute, the University of Melbourne, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the Royal Childrens Hospital and Murdoch Institute and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In these 5 years we have had 6 PhD students, and 5 MPhil students in Head and Neck. They have been ably supported and supervised by research and clinical staff within the partner institutions.   

The ANZHNCS Research Foundation (AUS) has been in existence for over five years, during which time it has grown and last year provided for 3 research grants, 2 in Victoria and 1 in Queensland, a total of $15,000 dollars. Reports from these projects will be presented in our Scientific Meeting in Auckland. This year the Board of the Foundation is providing $20,000 in research funding. Applications have just closed and I am proud to announce that we have received 9 applications from all over Australia. Our Scientific Committee, under the guidance of Lyndell Kelly, faces a major challenge to review and make recommendations for funding.

On the donations front we have had some successes with new donation streams in memoriam, an interest expressed from a family in South Australia to support research into Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, and a pledge of significant funding for a PhD Scholarship.  Those of you with an interest in Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma can contact me with a view to forming an ACC research Group.
Research activities in Head and Neck Cancer are costly; additional donations which are tax deductible within Australia are urgently needed to fund our existing research programs, as well as to support new projects.

This brings us back to defining success; my success is firstly encouraging and supporting young researchers in Head and Neck Cancer within the VCCC. The reassessment is to develop Clinician/Scientist positions in the VCCC to combine clinical training with a higher degree. The payback for our efforts is the increasing numbers of bright and enthusiastic clinicians and scientists who wish to participate in cancer research.

The Foundation is moving from strength to strength; success is the increasing applications for funding from around the country. True success would be to facilitate funding for all of them.  Raising funds is always a difficult task; if 100 of our members committed to the Centurion Club there would be another $100,000 dollars available for research funding each year. If each of you arranged for donations instead of gifts for your significant birthday celebrations and family festivities, we might have $500,000. The Foundation would have a stable base to support research and we would bring a smile to the faces of all 9 applicants for funding this year. Their research may lead to the treatment breakthroughs that we are all searching for, prevention of and a cure for Head and Neck Cancer -Ultimate Success. My sincere appreciation goes to the members of our Board and Scientific Committee for their voluntary time and efforts in supporting the activities of the Foundation..

David Wiesenfeld
Chairman ANZHNCS Research Foundation




Thank you to our members who have renewed for 2015/2016. If you have not done so yet, could you please organise payment as soon as possible. 

Your membership funds enables us to work towards achieving our objectives of promoting the practice of head and neck cancer and other goals outlined in the Society’s Strategic Plan.

Upcoming Meetings

2016 ANZHNCS Annual Scientific Meeting
and the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies
(IFHNOS) 2016 World Tour, Auckland
Date: 25-27 October 2016
Meeting Convenor: Dr John Chaplin

2017 Annual Scientific Meeting, to held in Brisbane
Date: TBC
Meeting Convenors: Dr Ryan Sommerville, Dr Benjamin Chua, Ms Bena Cartmill



Executive Committee Members 2015-2016

President A/Prof Martin Batstone
Immediate Past President Dr Kerwin Shannon
Vice President Dr Julia Maclean
Secretary Dr Tim Iseli
Treasurer Dr Michael Collins

Dr John Chaplin, Dr Richard Lewis, Dr Nicholas Marshall, Dr Tsien Fua, Dr Brian Stein, Dr James Bowman     


Nominating Committee
Dr Kerwin Shannon (Chair), Dr Janelle Heywood, A/Prof Martin Batstone

Grant Subcommittee
Dr Julia Maclean (Chair), Dr Tim Iseli, Dr Kerwin Shannon

MDT Subcommittee
A/Prof Martin Batstone (Chair), Dr Julia Maclean        

Membership Subcommittee        
Dr Tim Iseli (Chair), Dr Julia Maclean, Ms Jennifer Burgess    

Research Subcommittee
Dr Richard Lewis (Chair), Dr Kerwin Shannon, Dr Michael Collins

PR & Website Subcommittee
A/Prof Martin Batstone (Chair), Dr Nicholas Marshall, Dr Brian Stein, Dr Kerwin Shannon

Awards Subcommittee        
A/Prof Martin Batstone (Chair), Dr Kerwin Shannon, Dr Michael Collins