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Dear Colleagues and Friends,
In my first President’s Letter earlier this year, I said that I was proud to have inherited an organisation which had been growing significantly both in terms of its membership and the breadth of its activities. Looking back over the first year of my Presidency I am delighted to say that this growth has continued.
A record-breaking year: ESMO 2016 Congress
Over the past 12 months, ESMO has reached a number of important milestones which have made 2016 another record-breaking year. In particular, our ESMO 2016 Congress in Copenhagen was a huge success, attracting the very best science and the very best people from across Europe and worldwide. The strength and quality of the scientific programme is evidenced by the three Presidential Symposia which took place, while some of the practice-changing science attracted the attention of the most influential medical and mainstream media. In total 1,640 studies were presented including 47 late-breaking abstracts.
ESMO membership now at 15,000
With such an exciting scientific programme, it is perhaps no surprise that ESMO 2016 also attracted a total of 20,767 participants from 124 countries worldwide – a record number not only for ESMO but for any oncology congress in Europe. It is also worth noting that our membership has surpassed 15,000, which is a testament to both our member-centric approach and our decision to open ESMO’s doors to professionals from all areas of cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, care and advocacy.
ESMO 2020 Vision: Integration
However, such numbers would mean little without genuine vision and purpose – and ESMO has both. The Society’s objectives, enshrined in our original mission, were given a renewed focus in the ESMO 2020 Vision, which identified three important challenges: the need for greater integration, specialised education and a model of sustainable cancer care. I am pleased to report that we are making significant progress in all three areas.
Building on the success of ESMO 2016 in Copenhagen, ESMO 2017 in Madrid will take place in partnership with the EACR (the European Association for Cancer Research). Having already integrated basic researchers and pathology specialists into the ESMO Faculty and opened ESMO membership to all cancer professionals and advocates, our 2017 Congress will mark the beginning of an important collaboration between our two societies.
ESMO 2020 Vision: Education
We have expanded our educational programme too, in order to support oncologists throughout their careers. Of particular note this year was the addition of new ESMO Fellowships, including the European Integration Fellowship, which gives young oncologists practising in a country which joined the European Union after 2004 the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working at a European centres of excellence.
We have also been focusing on the future leaders of our profession. The first ESMO Leaders Generation Programme saw 15 oncologists from 12 European countries participating in a two-part programme which will help to develop their own careers and enrich the future of oncology as a whole. This pioneering initiative will take place again in 2017 – and I am certain for many more years to come. In addition, the ESMO Women for Oncology Committee has been paving the way for tomorrow’s female oncology leaders, undertaking a study on the gender-related challenges faced by medical oncology professionals, the results of which were presented during the Women for Oncology session in Copenhagen.
Another important educational achievement was publication of the latest edition of the ESMO-ASCO Global Curriculum in Medical Oncology, which offers a global perspective on the clinical training required for physicians to qualify as medical oncologists through a common set of guidelines. Such is the pace of progress that the 2016 edition is the third since it was first published in 2004 and includes new chapters on important topics such as the principles of personalised cancer medicine, immunotherapy and molecular imaging.
The ESMO-ESO Course on Medical Oncology for Medical Students once again took place in Valencia, Spain, this year and the ESMO Academy designed for oncologists looking for an update on all the major topics in medical oncology, was again held in the UK city of Oxford. Both initiatives are now firmly established as part of the ESMO calendar and reflect the breadth and depth of our educational programme.
ESMO 2020 Vision: Sustainable Cancer Care
The ESMO 2020 Vision also identified the need for a sustainable model for cancer care and ESMO has an important part to play in assisting governments, health authorities and individual oncologists alike in their clinical decision-making by defining the magnitude, value and efficacy of different diagnostic and treatment options. With this in mind, the results of the ESMO European Consortium Study on the Availability of Anti-neoplastic Medicines were published in the August issue of Annals of Oncology. This landmark study, which gathered data from 46 European countries, found substantial differences in the formulary availability, out-of-pocket costs and actual availability of anti-cancer medicines across Europe.
Furthermore, the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) – which assesses the magnitude of clinical benefit of new anti-cancer treatments across a wide range of solid tumours – is now being incorporated into the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, with users alerted to newly scored medicines or changes to existing scores through eUpdates.
There is one more initiative I must mention, which in many ways encapsulates much of the work we have done and will continue to do in the future – the second ESMO Asia Congress in Singapore, which took place earlier this month. ESMO Asia is important not only for its role in bringing together regional and international experts in oncology but also for reinforcing ESMO’s position as a leading oncology society which is ‘Across Oncology. Worldwide’. It is essential that we continue to focus on eliminating barriers in all areas of our profession, from those preventing more women from progressing into leadership positions to barriers preventing patients from receiving the optimum cancer treatment, wherever in the world they may live.
By organising an annual Congress in both Europe and Asia, working collaboratively with other professionals, societies and organisations and maintaining our focus on the next generation of leaders in oncology, I believe that together we will succeed in breaking down those barriers that still remain.
And finally, a word of thanks
Of course, none of our achievements this year would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of ESMO’s Congress Scientific Committees and the ESMO Faculty, Officers and staff – and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all.
I would also like to thank every member of ESMO for their continued support and to warmly welcome all those who have joined us this year.
Fortunato Ciardiello ESMO President On behalf of the ESMO Executive Board
Fortunato Ciardiello weighs up his first year as ESMO President and the milestones reached in 2016 by the Society.