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Securing access to optimal cancer care through innovation, integration and sustainability [ESMO 2018 Press Release]

19 Oct 2018

MUNICH, Germany – Securing access to optimal cancer care for all patients can only be achieved through integrated, sustainable translation of today’s scientific advances into tomorrow’s treatments, reinforced by a clear understanding of the magnitude of clinical effects and accurate identification of patients most likely to benefit.

At the opening press conference of ESMO 2018 Congress, Scientific Chair, Professor Solange Peters stressed the importance of ensuring that the innovations reported at the meeting reach the right patients at the right time.

“ESMO 2018 is first and foremost about innovation, and compelling clinical trial data will be presented about potential new treatments for breast, prostate, ovarian and other cancers. But the conference is also about integration and sustainability, and we are encouraging a more integrated approach to cancer care as well as supporting essential policy-informing discussions about affordable, sustainable models of care,” she said.

Over the next few days, data will be presented from over 2000 submitted abstracts, representing nearly 116,000 patients who have taken part in clinical trials. Amongst studies focused on access to care will be important research demonstrating large variations between countries in time for reimbursement decisions on new cancer drugs. This shows that some European countries take more than twice as long as others to reach health technology assessment (HTA) decisions to reimburse new cancer drugs following their approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The average decision time is longer than one year in some countries (1).

“Without timely reimbursement decisions, based on appropriate evaluation of a new medicine’s benefits and cost-effectiveness, patients may miss out on potentially life-changing cancer medicines,” explained study co-author Dr Kerstin Vokinger, senior research scientist at the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, and affiliated researcher at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

The study found that health authorities generally made decisions much more quickly for drugs ranked as being of “highest benefit” on the ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS) which uses a rational, structured and consistent approach to grade the magnitude of clinical benefit that can be expected from anti-cancer treatments (2,3) Together with the recently published ESMO Scale for Clinical Actionability of molecular Targets (ESCAT) (4) which simplifies and standardises choices for targeted cancer treatment, ESMO-MCBS is helping to ensure that treatment decisions are based on the highest standards of evidence.

“ESMO is a driver of change affecting the entire field of oncology. ESMO-MCBS and ESCAT are grounding treatment choices in the best available evidence, helping to enhance decision making for both clinicians and healthcare providers, and making a major contribution to securing access to optimal cancer care for all patients, wherever they live,” concluded ESMO President, Josep Taberno.

Notes to Editors

Please make sure to use the official name of the meeting in your reports: ESMO 2018 Congress

Official Congress hashtag: #ESMO18


  1. Abstract 1555O_PR ‘Magnitude of clinical benefit of cancer drugs and time to health technology assessment (HTA) decisions in Europe’ will be presented by Thomas Hwang during the Proffered Paper Session on Monday, 22 October 2018, 14:45-16:45 (CEST) in Room 22 - Hall B3. Annals of Oncology, Volume 29 Supplement 8 October 2018
  2. Cherny NI, Sullivan R, Dafni U et al. A standardised, generic, validated approach to stratify the magnitude of clinical benefit that can be anticipated from anti-cancer therapies: the European Society for Medical Oncology Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale (ESMO-MCBS). Ann Oncol 2015; 26: 1547-1573
  3. Cherny NI, Dafni U, Bogaerts J et al. ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale version 1.1. Annals of Oncology 2017; 28: 2340-2366
  4. Mateo J, Chakravarty D, Dienstmann R et al. A framework to rank genomic alterations as targets for cancer precision medicine: The ESMO Scale for Clinical Actionability of molecular Targets (ESCAT). Annals of Oncology 2018 
About the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)

ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. With 18,000 members representing oncology professionals from over 150 countries worldwide, ESMO is the society of reference for oncology education and information. ESMO is committed to offer the best care to people with cancer, through fostering integrated cancer care, supporting oncologists in their professional development, and advocating for sustainable cancer care worldwide.

Last update: 19 Oct 2018

This press release contains information provided by the authors of the highlighted abstracts and reflects the content of those abstracts. It does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ESMO who cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the data. Commentators quoted in the press release are required to comply with the ESMO Declaration of Interests policy and the ESMO Code of Conduct.

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