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Stepping into the shoes of a Society with a global footprint


May 2023

Dear ESMO Members,

Serving as the new President of our Society—which has already achieved so much that makes me proud, is a great honour and privilege. I see more opportunities ahead for ESMO to make a difference in the world of oncology, which I am committed to pursuing in its name.

Over years of involvement with ESMO, I have watched its membership grow on a truly global scale. Today I believe we are called on to think and act accordingly: as a global professional society. This means continually reassessing and improving the way we address the changing and diverse needs of our community across regions, resource levels—and disciplines, from the practicing oncologist to the translational researcher. There will always be challenges and needs specific to individual countries and healthcare settings, but the burden of cancer is borne across the world and so we must be fit to take it on as One Oncology Community.

Closely related to this is the challenge we face in securing a sufficient and qualified oncology workforce to match the rising incidence of cancer in years to come. Education for Life is another tier of the ESMO Vision 2025 and to fulfil this ambition, we will need to prioritise the promotion of medical oncology among medical students. At a time when healthcare personnel shortages are already critical and even worsening in many parts of the world, we must get better not only at raising awareness for medical oncology as a specialty, but also at instilling in young generations the enthusiasm for this profession to be able to attract enough talented individuals to our field. 

The quality of the science ESMO receives and disseminates through its congresses, journals and other educational formats is a distinguishing feature of our Society. It is the result of long years of consistent work to build ESMO’s reputation for excellence and something we must continue to cultivate, asking ourselves how we can keep bringing the best evidence into the daily practice of oncology. Translating the considerable progress of recent years into better outcomes for all patients requires more than just showcasing the science behind it: we must process, contextualise and make new knowledge applicable for oncologists and beneficial for patients everywhere.

The reality is that today, patients with cancer do not all benefit from the same treatment standards. As ESMO President, therefore, I will also place special emphasis on carrying forward our Society’s action to advocate for equitable access to cancer care worldwide. ESMO already provides expert advice to governments and non-governmental institutions at both national and international levels. The Society will continue to use its strong voice to ensure oncologists are empowered to conduct cancer research and ensure care for patients in the best possible conditions. 

Taking on my mandate at the start of this year, I was struck by the intensity of our Society’s activity to address the global issues in cancer care—something for which I must credit and thank my predecessors, as well as the ESMO Officers whose commitment and hard work has been unwavering. With the first congress season of the year drawing to a successful close and countless other initiatives unfolding in parallel, I am happy to report that these last five months have been really intense.

In February, ESMO published important research shedding light on unmet and future needs within the global oncology community. A survey by the ESMO Women for Oncology Committee provided a detailed picture of gender inequities currently impacting oncology professionals around the world. An epidemiological study by the ESMO/SIOPE AYA Working Group quantified the cancer burden among adolescents and young adults, and underlined the need for specialised healthcare services tailored to this patient population. 

Educational events continued to be held in close succession as ESMO preceptorships, advanced courses as well as summits in South Africa and Latin America complemented our Society’s dense congress calendar. In addition to the Targeted Anticancer Therapies (TAT) Congress and three tumour-specific congresses (for gynaecological malignancies, thoracic tumours and breast cancer), the first ESMO Sarcoma and Rare Cancers Congress was held in March and marked a further milestone in our Society’s ongoing efforts to serve as a point of reference and an advocate for diseases in great need of advances in knowledge and treatment. 

Earlier this month the Society’s library of virtual resources, which also includes its thematic webinar series and the highly popular Virtual Plenaries, was expanded with the launch of the ESMO Living Guidelines. Designed in a concise, updatable visual format, these new tools are making the ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines fit for use in a rapidly evolving medical field and serve as reliable everyday companions to busy oncologists. 

Most recently, ESMO’s public policy efforts have been rewarded in the important area of cancer prevention. The adoption of the European Parliament’s position on the “Asbestos at Work” EU Directive reflects ESMO’s advocacy in support of a significant lowering of the statutory limits on occupational exposure to asbestos across the EU and could be a meaningful step towards sustainably reducing Europe’s cancer burden.  

It has been a productive start to the year and the second half of 2023 will be just as rife with activity catering to the diverse needs of our global membership, beginning in June with the launch of the 2023-2024 edition of the ESMO Leaders Generation Programme Europe for 15 talented young professionals to prepare for future leadership in their field. Later this year, another group of junior oncologists will kick off 12 months of one-on-one mentoring with senior ESMO Members in the third ESMO Virtual Mentorship programme. Our second congress season will dominate the scientific calendar in the final quarter, the highlight of which will surely be the annual ESMO Congress in Madrid.   

ESMO is committed to supporting its members wherever they are, and in doing so I hope to have the pleasure of connecting with many of you in the course of this presidential term.

Yours sincerely,

Andrés Cervantes
ESMO President

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