NAMS 23rd Annual Meeting: The Executive Director's Top Picks

Margery L. Gass, MD


September 20, 2012

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

Editor's Note:
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) will be hosting its 23rd Annual Meeting October 3-6. Leading experts in the field of menopause and attendees from the world over will be gathering in Orlando, Florida, to learn of the latest findings and other cutting-edge topics.

Margery L. Gass, MD, Executive Director of NAMS, met with Medscape to offer readers a brief overview of this year's meeting and to preview what she considers to be the must-attend sessions.

Dr. Gass: The upcoming meeting has so many exciting elements that it's difficult to choose what to highlight first.

I would start off with the brand-new results from the KEEPS (Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study) trial. This study is another hormone therapy trial that differs from the design of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study by including only women who were very close to menopause. The KEEPS trial investigators evaluated the use of 2 different hormone products: 0.45 mg of oral estrogen, which is a lower dose than what was used in the WHI; and a transdermal patch of estradiol, plus what people today would call a "natural" progesterone, the bioidentical progesterone that is FDA approved (200 mg a day, 12 days per month). The trial's main endpoints are carotid intima-media thickness and coronary artery calcium. It's very exciting that the investigators are presenting their first findings at the NAMS annual meeting during the Presidential Symposium on October 3.

From there, I would spotlight some very interesting and thought-provoking presentations on the state of the art in screening and testing. Today we're seeing a number of longstanding guidelines being challenged. For example, for years, Pap smear screening guidelines mandated that women should have a Pap smear every year. This guidance has been changed several times in recent years. Hopefully the guideline that is coming out this year will be final.

Mammogram screening also has been called into question. Do women really need a mammogram every year? What are the data?

As for bone density, are too many younger women being screened with a bone density test? On the other hand, are too few older women being screened? These questions will be covered in a premeeting symposium about screening, testing, and preventive care on October 3.

Another bone controversy that will be addressed is, "Should there be a drug holiday for patients using some of the osteoporosis therapies?" This question has been tossed around and debated among bone experts, and NAMS has invited an expert to address that topic and the current thinking for our attendees on October 4.

Other highlights of the meeting involve some novel content for NAMS. One topic, for example, is motivational interviewing, which will be presented on October 4. What is that and how can I use it in my practice? Could it really help my patients get to where they want to go with their healthcare lifestyle?

On October 5, another topic of interest will look at gender issues in regard to sexual function in women. Because NAMS is a menopause society, we usually focus only on the female. But in this case, our speakers are going to address the heterosexual couple. What are the woman's challenges at menopause and with getting older, and what are the man's challenges at menopause and with getting older? How do they work things out sexually to be satisfactory for both of them?

Continuing along gender lines, we're going to address lesbian healthcare, also on October 5. Are there differences that practitioners need to be aware of when working with a lesbian patient? Are we providing all of the services that we can to lesbian patients? I think that these sessions will be very interesting and represent some new approaches to content presented at our meeting.

Finally, we added a new panel to the program for October 6. Normally we end our annual meetings with an expert panel session where members pose questions about challenging issues that they encounter in their practice. Rather than doing that this year, as we've done in so many past years, we've recognized that people still have some burning questions about hormone therapy.

As a result, we've brought in representatives who are knowledgeable about various research communities and government agencies, and who can address how drugs are studied and handled in our country. For example, how is it decided that a certain drug or product will carry a black box label? Who makes that decision? Has it ever been challenged? Has it ever been removed? Could the warning be different for different doses of a drug?

Also, what's the future of hormone therapy? Can we expect anything to change? Are there any new studies on the horizon? These issues will be on the floor -- or on the table, if you will -- because there's going to be an open dialogue among the attendees and the panelists.

Those are some of the highlights that I see for this year's annual meeting, but frankly the entire meeting is stellar material. I think the attendees will be very pleased that they came to the meeting.