Press Release: ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award Honours Sir Richard Peto

  • Date: 06 Sep 2016

Lugano, Switzerland – The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has honoured Sir Richard Peto with this year’s ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award. Peto has made important contributions to state-of-the-art treatment for breast cancer and clearly outlined the hazards of smoking. The accolade will be presented at the ESMO 2016 Congress, held 7 to 11 October in Copenhagen, Denmark.1

The esteemed ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2006 to recognise international research teams or individuals who have demonstrated commitment to cancer research and education.

Richard Peto

Sir Richard Peto FRS is Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health (NDPH). He, working with his colleagues Richard Gray, Rory Collins and several dozen leading breast cancer researchers, founded the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG) in 1985, which has substantially improved the routine management of early breast cancer and influenced clinical trial strategies. Peto was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989 for meta-analyses of randomised trials of treatments for breast cancer and for vascular disease.

On receiving the award, Peto said: “The ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award recognises not just Richard Peto but the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group as a whole, including the patients and staff in hundreds of randomised trials. The EBCTCG’s large-scale randomised evidence has helped identify several of the moderate treatment gains that have, since 1990, already halved European breast cancer death rates in middle age.”

On behalf of the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee, chair Christoph Zielinski said: “Prof. Richard Peto’s meta-analyses have generated important contributions to state-of-the-art breast cancer treatment. He has also excelled in his epidemiologic studies of lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases, showing that smoking still causes a quarter of all European cancer deaths.”

By their large trials, prospective studies and worldwide meta-analyses, Peto and his colleagues have increased substantially the estimated importance of blood lipids, blood pressure and smoking as causes of premature death. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 for his epidemiological studies of the hazards of smoking and benefits of stopping, and was the first to describe clearly the future worldwide health effects of current smoking patterns, predicting one billion deaths from tobacco in the present century if current smoking patterns persist, as against 'only' 100 million in the 20th century.

Zielinski concluded: “Prof. Richard Peto has contributed constantly over the years to the prevention of cancer and to the improvement of breast cancer treatment in Europe and the world. It is, therefore, why the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee has unanimously voted for Richard Peto to be the recipient of the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award 2016.”


Notes to Editors

  1. The ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Sir Richard Peto during the Opening Session of the ESMO 2016 Congress, Friday 7 October 2016 at 12:00 to 13:20 (CEST). Sir Richard Peto will deliver a scientific lecture during the session.

Info on all ESMO awards is available here.

ESMO, European Society for Medical Oncology

ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. Comprising more than 13,000 oncology professionals from over 130 countries, we are the society of reference for oncology education and information. We are committed to supporting our members to develop and advance in a fast-evolving professional environment.

Founded in 1975, ESMO has European roots and a global reach: we welcome oncology professionals from around the world. We are a home for all oncology stakeholders, connecting professionals with diverse expertise and experience. Our educational and information resources support an integrated, multi-professional approach to cancer treatment. We seek to erase boundaries in cancer care as we pursue our mission across oncology, worldwide.