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Dear Colleagues and Friends,

During a pivotal scene in Romeo and Juliet, one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Juliet asks “What’s in a name?” in the hope that the answer will be “nothing”. Since Romeo is a member of a rival family, Juliet fears his family name may prevent them from being together.

Ask the same question of ESMO and the answer would be “everything”! As the European Society for Medical Oncology, the name of our Society encapsulates perfectly who we are, and in this President’s Letter I would like to draw your attention to two words in particular – ‘European’ and ‘for’.

European Roots, Global Approach

ESMO is proudly European. Our roots are in Europe and for more than 40 years we have been bringing oncologists and other societies together from across the continent, in order to break down barriers, build partnerships and find solutions to common problems. For example, ESMO played a leading role in the recognition of medical oncology as an independent speciality at an EU level back in 2011, while last year, with support from our partners, we raised awareness to support an important amendment in the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation. As a result of our work, the Regulation will now include provision for a ‘one time consent’ from patients allowing their data and tissues to be used for important pan-European research in the future, protected with strict ethical safeguards.

What these examples demonstrate is that ESMO is becoming the reference authority on oncology for EU decision-makers and we continue working hard to ensure that cancer remains a priority at both national and European levels through initiatives such as the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale and the position paper on biosimilars which was published last month in ESMO Open.

While our European focus remains as important as ever it was, we have also broadened our horizons in order to take a global approach to a disease that does not respect boundaries of any kind, be they social, cultural or geographical. Just last month, in fact, ESMO presented an official statement at the 140th session of the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva, in support of the 2017 WHO Cancer Resolution (pdf). In our statement we called for a robust and comprehensive approach to help drive national progress, particularly in low and middle-income countries which are facing the biggest challenges as a result of the rapidly growing cancer burden. The Cancer Resolution will be a landmark document for cancer which is calling for the development and implementation of national cancer plans, population-based cancer registries, a world cancer report and a well-trained oncology workforce.

A society 'for' Medical Oncology

ESMO is also proud to be a Society ‘for’ medical oncology. Appropriately, one of the definitions of the word ‘for’ is “in support or in favour of” which is significant because ESMO has always worked hard for its members, for the wider oncology community and, of course, for cancer patients.
First and foremost, ESMO is a membership organisation and the provision of specialised education forms a key pillar of the ESMO 2020 Vision. As well as meeting the continuing educational needs of our members at all stages of their careers, ESMO also plays a critical role in setting standards in medical oncology across the board.

Like our work with European decision-makers, ESMO has become the reference authority on oncology education through initiatives such as 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 by establishing a common set of guidelines. The latest edition of the Curriculum is the third to be published since the project began in 2004, demonstrating not only the rapid pace of change in oncology but also the pressing need for oncologists to remain up-to-date with them.

With this in mind, we have maintained our focus on the needs of young oncologists – those people who will become the leaders of our Society and our profession in the years to come. For example, the number and range of Preceptorships and Fellowships are growing year-on-year, while the second groundbreaking ESMO Leaders Generation Programme will begin at the end of March.

ESMO stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its members throughout their careers. Our Advanced Courses are designed to give clinicians the latest disease-specific knowledge across a number of tumour types, while the annual ESMO Academy is ideal for colleagues planning to take the ESMO Examination, along with those looking for an update on all the major topics in medical oncology today.

Of course, these are just some of the many excellent educational initiatives taking place across ESMO and I cannot possibly name them all here, nor do justice to the immense contribution they make. What they all highlight, however, is our unstinting commitment to developing our educational programme and to ensuring it continues to meet the changing needs of our members and also our profession as a whole.

New magazine for a fresh perspective

In the same way, we are always looking to improve and tailor the way we communicate and engage with our members, and I am therefore delighted that we recently published the first edition of our new digital magazine ESMO Perspectives.

As the name suggests, the magazine provides a fresh perspective on the many people, personalities and projects that make ESMO what it is today. As an open and growing Society of more than 15,000 members from all areas of cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, care and advocacy worldwide, it is essential that our member engagement also continues to evolve and I would urge you to get involved by sharing your unique stories, views – and perspectives – at

ESMO Perspectives is your magazine, ESMO is your Society and they are both here for you. I look forward to hearing from you, meeting you and working with – and for – you during the months ahead to make 2017 the most successful ever in ESMO’s history.

Fortunato Ciardiello
ESMO President
For and on behalf of the ESMO Executive Board