Dear Colleagues and Friends
There is a tremendous buzz around the ESMO office and across our community as we count down to convening in Munich for a momentous celebration of the latest groundbreaking results during our forthcoming Congress (19–23 October).
Last week, Solange Peters and I, as Scientific Chair and Congress President respectively, were filmed to preview our congress which bears the tagline ‘Securing access to optimal cancer care.’ We were asked to define access within the context of precision medicine in oncology.
Access means very different things to different stakeholders; I am delighted that our 2018 programme has been expertly devised to tackle each possible interpretation.
The annual ESMO Congress also provides an essential platform for much needed change, a time to unite stakeholders and collectively get better organised to confront the global burden of cancer. A recent study reported 17.2 million cancer cases worldwide and 8.9 million deaths in 2016, with cancer cases up by 28% from 2006-2016. With global oncology costs continuing to soar – the price tag is predicted to reach $150 billion by 2020 – access to optimal cancer care is out of reach for too many of our patients.
This is why ESMO 2018 will provide the arena not only for the latest in scientific and clinical discovery, but also for vital policy-informing discussions regarding affordable, sustainable models of cancer care. By considering the latest data in cancer survival globally and real-world evidence of how inadequate care provision can be addressed, we can bring about the necessary change to deliver accessible and affordable treatments and services.
Access to the right clinical expertise
Access to the right clinical expertise at the right time is also key. We need more oncologists with solid background in primary and secondary prevention, early diagnosis, basic, translational and clinical research. We need them to truly understand and translate the principles of precision medicine and integrate all aspects of care while using available resources in the most sustainable manner.
The 21 Congress tracks have been devised to attract the full scope of oncology professionals from an international pool so that we can accelerate discovery and thus improve cancer treatment and care by combining our strengths and overcoming current and future challenges together.
Equal access to optimal care
Mirroring my own belief and trust in forging close collaborations with other specialties and key stakeholders, including pharmaceutical companies and policy makers -- as well as those who must remain at the centre of everything we do, our patients -- this year’s congress continues to grow in reach, scope and depth.
This year we have introduced a dedicated three-day nursing track through a newly cemented collaboration with the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS). Spanning five major themes – cancer nursing, leadership, symptom management, patient safety, and the role of cancer nurses -- this programme will enhance the essential contribution of oncology nurses as part of our multidisciplinary teams, as we all aspire to offering equal access to optimal care for our patients.
The focus of ESMO 2018 is therefore on multidisciplinarity and the unveiling of practice-changing data. Facilitating exchange and debate will, as I can personally attest, continue to trigger the beginning of great things. I confidently predict that exciting new studies and future partnerships will emerge from the many exciting conversations to be shared with friends, colleagues and peers during our five days in Munich.
As I delve into the Scientific Programme, with nearly 2,000 oral and poster discussion presentations and posters, a total of more than 200 sessions and an expected massive number of late breaking abstracts, the highlights are too many to mention here. Here are just a few of mine.
I believe that the only dilemma faced by Congress delegates will be deciding what not to attend. I also believe that together in Munich, we can continue to turn current challenges that are affecting our ability to more rapidly and precisely advance oncology into opportunity and better outcomes for all stakeholders in oncology.
Please join me in discovering how the latest progress can be harnessed and used most effectively towards securing sustainable, optimal cancer care for all our patients.