French-speaking world gets set for 6-channel JFR

By Frances Rylands-Monk, AuntMinnieEurope.com staff writer

September 28, 2020 -- Predictive imaging, lung cancer screening, and the so-called patient experience will be central themes at the annual congress for the French-speaking radiological community, the Journées Francophones de Radiologie (JFR). The event will take place between 2 and 5 October via six livestreaming channels.

Dr. Alain Luciani, PhD
Dr. Alain Luciani, PhD.

The virtual congress JFR.plus will focus on its usual mix of science, training, and exchange, with the thrust being on how to translate innovation into daily care, according to representatives from the national society of radiology (Société Française de Radiologie) at a press conference held last week.

Hosting the press conference, JFR 2020 President Dr. Alain Luciani, PhD, noted that while channel one will be open to the public, registered attendees will be able to access five more private channels via which the organizers will stream 70 sessions and 11 workshops on themes ranging from post-COVID-19 management, lung cancer screening, and the economic role of imaging in France's "reindustrialization." He noted that despite being a virtual experience, the congress will feature many of its signature elements, such as the ultrasound, interventional, artificial intelligence (AI), and innovation villages, as well as the technical exhibition.

COVID-19 coverage

Four sessions on predictive imaging will reveal the potential and current application of the latest algorithms for brain, musculoskeletal, serious pediatric neurotumor, and cardiovascular imaging -- the latter specifically focusing on predicting sudden death in young athletes. There will also be 10 sessions dedicated to the pandemic, including follow-up imaging.

Dr. Mathieu Lederlin, PhD, president of the national society for thoracic imaging (Société nationale d'imagerie thoracique, SIT) and radiologist at CHU Pontchaillou in Rennes, explained that many of these sessions will take place on Monday 5 October, preceded by a collaborative film about COVID-19 on the Sunday night.

Dr. Mathieu Lederlin, PhD
Dr. Mathieu Lederlin, PhD.

"I can't tell you enough how thoracic CT has impacted COVID-19 patient management," noted Lederlin."The thoracic imaging society developed a CT strategy that unfortunately was never rolled out on a wide scale. We are probably on the cusp of a second wave, therefore CT strategy is a priority."

His hospital in Rennes has recently acquired a new CT scanner to significantly improve patient medical management, but further investment in CT is needed across French hospitals, according to Lederlin. He revealed how recently during a night shift in another center, one CT machine had been in use all night, with around 20 COVID-19 patients waiting for chest scans, and that this was a similar scenario in many hospitals.

Luciani underlined that with 10 CT machines per million inhabitants, France has proportionally far fewer machines than Germany has, and nine times fewer than Japan.

When asked about its specificity for COVID-19-associated abnormalities, Lederlin referred to studies from China and Japan showing that CT's sensitivity for the disease was over 90% and far superior to x-ray but that results for its specificity were mixed.

"The truth is that typical abnormalities seen on CT are still relatively specific to COVID-19," he clarified.

Lung cancer screening

Commenting on the use of ultralow-dose CT, Dr. Marie-Pierre Revel, PhD, professor of radiology and head of cardiothoracic imaging at Hôpital Cochin in Paris, revealed that lung cancer screening would also be on the agenda at JFR 2020.

Dr. Marie-Pierre Revel
Dr. Marie-Pierre Revel, PhD.

The lungs can be fully scanned in extreme detail with ultralow-dose CT in three seconds, noted Revel, who is an SIT board member. Such a technique is not only accurate for detecting small viral abnormalities associated with COVID-19 but also for spotting small early cancers. She added that young radiologists need to be trained in this technique, as lung cancer remains the country's biggest killer of both men and women.

SFR and SIT are now in discussion with France's Health Authorities (Haute Autorité de Santé, HAS) about the country's own screening pilot study, "Cascade," which has been seriously delayed due to the pandemic. Cascade is set to include 2,400 participants, pending governmental funding.

"We had an oral agreement, but in the meantime there was COVID, and the project was postponed because we did not receive the exceptional ministerial funding that had been granted. We are in the process of renegotiation, to prevent the decision from being postponed to 2021," Revel told AuntMinnieEurope.com after the conference.

"This pilot study is essential before thinking of organized screening but for the moment I have no guarantee that we will be able to launch it. However, our training program for French radiologists is ready and is based on the same model as the European certification for screening," she said.

The growing focus on lung cancer screening in France has been fuelled in part by significant results from four major studies, the latest being those from the Dutch-Belgian Randomized Lung Cancer Screening (NELSON) trial, which showed a 39% reduction in lung cancer mortality in women and a 26% reduction in male mortality.


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