The Congress was opened by Master of Ceremony Professor Christoph Zielinski, from Medical University of Vienna, Austria, to a packed auditorium. Professor Zielinski welcomed everyone to his home city, declaring ESMO 2012 officially open. “Vienna is a city at the geographical cross roads of Europe that also bridges the different approaches to both cancer treatment and reimbursements. Our situation uniquely qualifies us to host a conference on cancer with participants from all over the world,” said Professor Zielinski.
ESMO President, Professor Martine Piccart, from Jules Bordet Institute, Brussels, Belgium, delivered her Presidential Address, where she explained ESMO’s ‘unprecedented opportunity’ and role in making more rapid advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. ESMO’s vision to accelerate progress against cancer, she said, includes education, clinical and translational research, partnerships and a particular focus on young oncologists.
ESMO, she added, is uniquely positioned to lead high-quality scientific and educational initiatives through its Congresses, OncologyPRO, Guidelines, and a full range of products and services designed for medical oncologists. Furthermore, ESMO has global influence and reach through international collaborations with oncology societies throughout the world, and has created strong alliances with patient organizations and advocacy groups. The latest statistics, showing that 25% of the Western European population gets cancer before the age of 75 years, and 12.5% die from it, underline the enormous toll of this devastating disease.
Elucidating the complex molecular architecture of cancers, said Professor Piccart, offers the promise of ‘precision medicine’ with improved selection of targeted therapies for individual patients. But with this comes the accumulation of massive amounts of data - including full genome, exome sequencing, DNA sequencing, RNA sequencing, and protein analysis. Professor Piccart made a plea for such data to be shared ‘efficiently’ between academia, government and industry. A revolution, she stressed, is needed to allow data sharing to occur much earlier. “We still have a long way to go before massive amounts of alterations can be linked to cancer biology and translated into a truly effective treatment strategy!”