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Dear Colleagues and Friends

Over the last two years I have had the privilege and honour to serve as the President of ESMO. As my term comes to a close I would like to reflect on the wonderful achievements we have had during this time.

Health is a human right. This belief has guided my Presidency and shaped many important ESMO projects designed to ensure that clinicians and policymakers have the knowledge and tools they need to make the best possible decisions for cancer patients.

Under my predecessor, Prof. Rolf Stahel, ESMO coined the phrase ‘Across Oncology. Worldwide’, which signified the Society’s determination to consolidate collaboration between different disciplines and across different geographies in the fight against cancer.

This was an important step and over the past two years we have been making significant strides towards realising everyone’s right to receive the best cancer diagnosis, treatment and care regardless of where in the world they live. We have made those strides by focusing on a number of critical areas including education and public policy, while at the same time reinforcing the importance of ESMO congresses as essential platforms for sharing best practice.

Record-breaking events

The first Congress of my Presidency, ESMO 2016 in Copenhagen, was a tremendous success and yet even this was surpassed by our 2017 Congress in Madrid.
ESMO 2017

Marking the start of an important partnership between ESMO and the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR), ESMO 2017 attracted nearly 24,000 delegates from 131 countries to the Spanish capital for what was a truly global event. A record number of abstracts were submitted, with 1,736 selected for presentation and ground-breaking new research announced through 55 late breaking abstracts and 10 simultaneous publications.

Our ESMO Asia Congress has also gone from strength-to-strength over the past three years. It has become an established and highly anticipated event in the regional calendar and is playing an increasingly important part in our global approach.
ESMO Asia 2017

The 2017 meeting in Singapore last month was endorsed by 21 oncology societies across the region and attracted nearly 3,000 delegates.

Availability & effectiveness of cancer medicines

In addition to the publication of practice-changing research, both ESMO 2017 and ESMO Asia 2017 featured debates on key policy issues including the availability, sustainability and effectiveness of cancer medicines. These important topics have formed part of ESMO’s public policy programme which has been extended significantly during my Presidency, while sustainability of cancer care is one of the main pillars of the ESMO 2020 Vision.

Earlier this year, ESMO published a report on shortages of cancer medicines, in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Launched during a high-profile event at the European Parliament, the report shed much-needed light on a little-known problem – the shortage of inexpensive, essential medicines in many European countries – and set out a series of concrete actions to address this problem.

We also played our part in bringing about the 2017 WHO Cancer Resolution, which was adopted unanimously during the 70th World Health Assembly in May this year.

The Resolution – which marked the culmination of a 15-year partnership between ESMO and the World Health Organization – will ensure cancer remains at the heart of the global health agenda for many years to come.

ESMO tools and resources

We took the opportunity to highlight the many ESMO tools and resources available to the WHO, national authorities and individual clinicians alike, including the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) and the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines, which have both been further developed this year.   

First introduced in 2015 with the aim of assessing the clinical benefits of new cancer therapies, the ESMO-MCBS has been revised to make it an even more effective tool and now allows for the scoring of single-arm studies. Furthermore, the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer have, for the first time, been adapted to take account of ethnicity, specifically in relation to treating Asian patients. A joint initiative between ESMO and the Japanese Society of Medical Oncology, with support from the oncological societies of China, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, this is yet another example of the way in which ESMO is giving clinicians the tools they need to provide the best possible care to cancer patients worldwide.

Education has also been an important focus throughout my Presidency and forms another pillar of the ESMO 2020 Vision. In today’s increasingly specialised environment, oncologists need to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in standards of practice and gain in-depth disease-specific knowledge, while at the same time learning how to collaborate with other specialists in today’s integrated setting.

To meet the needs of our members, ESMO must provide the best possible educational courses and resources. Our annual ESMO Congresses in Europe and Asia have important educational roles to play and we have expanded the range of Preceptorships to include scientific topics, for example immuno-oncology and specific patient groups, such as adolescents and young adults. As a benefit for ESMO members who may not be able to travel to our events all of our educational resources are available via OncologyPRO, ESMO`s educational and scientific portal.

The people making tomorrow

ESMO Leaders Generation Programme

ESMO Leaders Generation Programme 2017 participants

Developing the next generation of Oncology leaders is also essential and I am especially proud of the ESMO Leaders Generation Programme. It has been running for the past two years and has so far given 30 young oncologists the opportunity to acquire new leadership and communication skills, as well as learning about ESMO’s role in the world of oncology.

Of course, ESMO is all about people. In fact, everything we do is designed to help give those people suffering from cancer, and who survive cancer, longer and more fulfilled lives. We are also a rapidly growing community of people – nearly 18,000 people – drawn from all areas of cancer care, including diagnosis, treatment, and advocacy, not only from across Europe, but worldwide. I was therefore delighted to oversee the development of ESMO Perspectives, our new digital magazine which in every edition highlights the people who make ESMO what it is today – and what it will become tomorrow.

Thanks to you all

And so lastly, but importantly, that brings me to the people who have supported me so ably during my stewardship of our esteemed Society. I am extremely proud by how much we have achieved together over the past two years, none of which would have been possible without the ESMO Executive Board and the Society’s officers, its dedicated and committed staff and its members, who are all making such a positive contribution to the fight against cancer, every single day.

Serving as ESMO President has been the greatest honour of my professional life. I am privileged to have held the position and look forward to serving the Society in other capacities in the years ahead. I would like to wish my friend and successor as ESMO President, Prof Josep Tabernero, every success over the next two years and would ask you to support him in the same way you have supported me. I know that under his stewardship I leave the society in very good hands.

With my very best wishes,
Fortunato Ciardiello, ESMO President