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ESMO and ASCO Release a New Version of the Joint Global Curriculum for Training in Medical Oncology

23 Oct 2023

ESMO and ASCO, the two largest professional organisations for oncologists, have released the 2023 edition of their joint recommendations for the Curriculum for Training in Medical Oncology. First published in 2004 and updated in 2010 and 2016, the ESMO/ASCO Recommendations for a Global Curriculum in Medical Oncology are a set of common standards in guiding the training of medical oncologists worldwide and to ensure that all patients –regardless of where they live-- receive care from well-trained medical oncologists. “Since the latest edition in 2016, there has been an explosion of new therapies and new indications; advances in cellular therapy, refinement of molecular pathology and precision oncology, in imaging knowledge and practices,” notes Tanja Cufer, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, Chair of the joint ESMO/ASCO working group responsible for the Curriculum. “It is a big effort to keep pace with the developments in the oncology field, but this is good, because it means many new possibilities for offering better care to our patients.”

Approximately 150 authors appointed by ESMO and ASCO with expertise ranging from research to palliative care and cancer control have thoroughly reviewed and created a new publication that is considered a lighthouse in the medical oncology academic circles. “In 2019, when a survey was conducted to assess the implementation of the ESMO/ASCO Global Curriculum, we were pleased to see that it was adopted or adapted in nearly 70% of the surveyed countries,” says Michael Kosty, Scripps Cancer Center, United States, and member of the ESMO/ASCO Working Group.

Similarly, it is anticipated that the updated recommendations will ultimately support medical oncology trainees around the world to perform specialist assessment and guide systemic therapy in the context of multidisciplinary treatment and counselling of patients with each type of cancer along the disease continuum. 

“There is certainly room for a larger implementation of the Curriculum, and we hope that with the latest version released now, the value of this document will become even more apparent,” concludes Cufer.

In terms of content, multiple changes and innovations have been incorporated in the GC 2023, including:

  • Updated sections on educational programmes to reflect the techniques and teaching environment actually applied by users of the GC;
  • New chapter on cancer epidemiology and expanded one on prevention;
  • Expanded sections on therapeutic options to include the latest advancements;
  • Significantly revised section on pathology, molecular pathology, laboratory medicine, imaging, and principles of personalised cancer medicine, to acknowledge the substantial advances in each of these areas;
  • Combined and expanded section on the management and treatment of specific populations;
  • New section on emergencies in oncology;
  • New stand-alone section on patient education on top of the chapter on psychosocial aspects of cancer, acknowledging the important role patients play in the management of their disease;
  • Entirely new section on cancer research, with subsections on translational and clinical research, research ethics, and statistics;
  • New section on cancer control, covering the fundamentals of cancer care organisation, technology, digital health and cancer, team-based care, access to healthcare tailored to local needs and resource environments, equity principles and global cancer control.

With such wealth of research and clinical advances comes the need to expand the set of basic skills that are of importance to all clinicians and patients; therefore, separate chapters/sections have been revised and enhanced on the following topics which have recently acquired a new dimension in the doctor-patient relation:

  • Consideration of psychosocial aspects of care, including communication skills;
  • Integration of palliative or supportive care measures;
  • Survivorship issues.

Three didactic principles were applied consistently across the entire curriculum to improve clarity and therefore facilitate both trainers and trainees: objectives, key concepts and skills. Furthermore, separate templates were developed for cancer-specific or noncancer-specific chapters.

  • The 2023 edition of the ESMO/ASCO Curriculum for Training in Medical Oncology is published simultaneously in ESMO Open (doi: 10.1016/j.esmoop.2023.101631) and JCO Global Oncology (doi: 10.1200/GO.23.00277)
  • The new curriculum was presented in a dedicated session on Monday 23 October, 10:15-11:45 during the ESMO Congress 2023 in Madrid

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