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A Message from the ESMO President

“Responsibility” is a keyword these days, both individual and collective responsibility

17 Mar 2020

In light of the dramatic developments related to the outbreak of the Coronavirus across the globe, ESMO has made the difficult but responsible decision to cancel a number of educational activities and events.

“Responsibility” is a keyword these days, both individual and collective responsibility. Every day we see doctors and nurses work to exhaustion to fulfil their mission, do whatever they can to assist patients. We, as individual oncologists and as professionals representing our societies, have a double responsibility: contribute to reduce the spread of the virus as well as protect and care for our patients, our colleagues, our staff.

Cancer patients represent a high-risk population for the Covid-19 infection. Treating cancer is a challenging task: under the current circumstances, not only must we apply due oncology care, but also be prepared to face the unknown.

Studies, mainly from China, are beginning to be published investigating what we should take into consideration when dealing with the infection in connection with cancer patients. However, it is early to be able to draw conclusions, therefore, we must continue to produce good science and offer excellent education.

Under the current circumstances a unique chance lies ahead of us today: to transform this challenging situation into an opportunity. We have to explore all possibilities for virtual education; we have to develop new channels to support and increase information sharing and communication across institutions and continents, in a safe way; we must invest in and leverage new technologies; we have to innovate our way of thinking, working, educating, collaborating... We must bring innovation to life to ensure that cancer patients will continue to be treated and cared for by qualified, committed oncology professionals, wherever they live, whatever their conditions are.

ESMO is committed to protect its staff, facilitate colleagues in difficult situations and protect patients. Our thoughts and gratitude go to those colleagues who are working relentlessly, with the highest dedication in such a difficult situation. Our sympathy goes to those colleagues who are suffering, their families and loved ones, and all the patients who have been directly impacted by the disease.

Solange Peters, ESMO President

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