A word from the ESMO President
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Dear colleagues and friends,

Towards the end of last year I wrote to you on behalf of the ESMO Executive Board to inform you of our intention to organise an annual ESMO Congress in Europe.

Today, I am able to share with you exciting news with regard to ESMO 2017, but first I need to provide you with some additional information about the reasons for our decision to withdraw from the congresses organised by ECCO.

A responsible decision

Although two years ago ECCO decided to separate its congress organising operation from its oncopolicy activities in light of important governance issues, a solution for the new structure was slow to be put forward; it was complex, not accompanied by proper strategic and business plans and, in the opinion of ESMO’s lawyers, would not have been compliant with international non-profit tax laws. In order to avoid any legal or tax challenges, and protect the Society in the future, the ESMO Board took immediate action and made the difficult but responsible decision to withdraw from the European Cancer Congress (ECC) organised by ECCO after 2015. However it is important to note that ESMO is not withdrawing from ECCO: we are committed to ECCO and believe it has a unique and added-value role to play as an umbrella organisation – a point which is addressed later in this letter.

Mindful of the need to maintain a collaborative spirit with other disciplines, and guided by the belief that responsibility for establishing educational platforms should lie with professional and scientific member-based societies, ESMO offered the other ECCO Founding Members the opportunity to operate a joint congress in alternate years, organised within the framework of direct collaboration with individual societies.

Such a solution would be much simpler and compliant with all tax laws, as well as avoiding the financial and organisational burdens of creating and managing a third-party congress-organising entity. Furthermore, our solution would have accommodated both the scientific and financial requirements of all the partner societies while also developing a truly integrated multidisciplinary congress. Unfortunately this proposal was not accepted.

Fully committed to supporting ECCO’s oncopolicy mission

At ESMO we firmly believe that the real task of an umbrella organisation such as ECCO should be to offer a coordinating function for all those issues commonly grouped under the term 'oncopolicy'.

Over the past few years, ESMO has repeatedly asked ECCO to fulfil such a coordinating role in Europe, as we believe it is important for the oncology community to speak with one united voice at a European level. Now more than ever ESMO remains fully committed to actively supporting the development of ECCO’s oncopolicy mission, which should focus on aspects related to access to quality cancer care, which is essential for every cancer patient. We have also pledged financial support for the new ECCO mission, provided ECCO does in the future focus on oncopolicy and this is supported by proper strategic and business plans, which include concrete projects developed in consultation with all member societies.

ESMO 2017: save the date

In the meantime, we have started working towards the ESMO 2017 Congress and I am very pleased to report our progress.

First of all, ESMO 2017 will be a partnership meeting with the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), which has enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to partner with us in organising a shared event in the years ahead.

ESMO 2017, in partnership with EACR, will take place in Madrid, from 8 to 12 September 2017.

The inclusion of a basic science track, the integration of basic, translational and clinical research across all relevant tracks of the programme and the bringing together of the communities will nurture more productive scientific exchanges and help advance the development of new treatment options for the benefit of our patients.

I am very pleased to announce that the Co-Chairs of the Scientific Programme will be Alberto Sobrero for ESMO and Richard Marais for EACR.

Alberto is a world renowned expert in colorectal cancer and a clinical researcher who has worked hard on the appropriateness of clinical trial methodology to ensure high clinical relevance of each new discovery. He is therefore the ideal candidate to guide a group of first-class experts in identifying the really significant advances which will improve the clinical practice of oncology in the future.

Richard is the current President of EACR, the largest European member-based society for cancer research, which is raising the profile of cancer researchers in Europe.

'Integrating science into oncology for better patient outcomes' will be the over-arching theme which will drive our collaborative efforts in making ESMO 2017, in partnership with EACR, a truly integrated oncology congress focused on advancing oncology and improving treatment options for our patients.

We are all very excited about this opportunity to combine the forces of basic, translational and clinical cancer research and hope you will be able to join us in Madrid in 2017 for this exceptional event.

Rolf A. Stahel
ESMO President
on behalf of the ESMO Executive Board