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ECCO President’s preview of the Congress

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Michael Baumann

ECCO President and Congress Chair

 

 

 

The full European oncology community will convene at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress on 23-27 September 2011 in Stockholm, Sweden. As the only multidisciplinary and multi-professional educational opportunity in oncology to take place in Europe, the Congress combines the 16th European CanCer Organisation (ECCO), 36th European Society for Molecular Oncology and 30th European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Congresses in synergy with indispensable contributions from ECCO’s other Founding Members: European Society for Surgical Oncology, European Association for Cancer Research, European Oncology Nursing Society and European Partnership for Action against Cancer, as well as further important partners in oncology, such as the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy (ESOP), and ECCO’s Patient Advisory Committee, comprising major European cancer patient advocacy groups. This underpins the relevance, role and participation of each and every specialty
in oncology.

Over the years, I have noticed that most of our Congress participants have a common quality – they are professionals and people who not only want to be the best, they also want to do their best. The 2011 Congress strives to fulfil this need by setting new standards within the international cancer conference arena. It offers breakthrough advances and insight in scientific and clinical research, patient management, practice and care through an outstanding range of scientific and educational symposia, special sessions, teaching lectures, workshops, legendary oxford-style debates, and much more. This helps participants not only to focus on being the best within their field through supporting education and career development; it also helps them to do their best for cancer patients through promotion and advancement of the multidisciplinary and multi-professional approach. 

Pharmacy forms an essential discipline practising in a variety of settings including medical oncology, haematology, palliative care and chemotherapy preparation services, and consequently the active participation of pharmacy is eagerly anticipated. The ability of pharmacists to apply their skills as medicines experts to help cancer patients is a key aspect of multidisciplinarity as well as it is to ensuring that each cancer patient receives the best treatment possible.

 

A multidisciplinary and professional approach

Over 150 leading experts have collaborated to develop a unique, comprehensive and highly stimulating multidisciplinary Scientific Programme of excellence, comprising a total of 33 Tracks. With over 230 pharmacists attending the 2009 Congress demonstrating a shared interest in ensuring the provision of optimal pharmaceutical care and drug therapy for cancer patients, I anticipate even higher attendance and further valuable contributions from your profession this year. Your attendance and input will give life to the session, ‘Oral Chemotherapy: From Absorption to Adherence: Is The Patient Being Treated?’, as well as enhance the Regulatory Track session discussions regarding the ‘Application of Pharmacometrics
in Oncology’. 

The Congress’ multidisciplinary setting enables participants to listen and learn from colleagues in other disciplines and professions; find out more about what they can offer patients; discuss good practice; and work together to effectively develop advances and insight in scientific and clinical research, as well as patient management and practice. Programme Sessions have been specifically structured to stimulate interaction, the exchange of ideas and discussion on best practice, and do not shy away from controversial issues or rigorous debate. 

A personalised approach

In the era of personalised medicine, one major goal behind the multidisciplinary and multi-professional format of the Congress is to accelerate and advance tailored cancer therapy and care. Personalised medicine has the potential to help change the landscape of oncology and has huge implications for all disciplines, including pharmacology. 

Targeted therapies reinforce and expand the multidisciplinary approach. Personalised medicine is expected to become integral to everyday clinical practice within the next five to ten years. In the field of oncology, future therapy strategies will lead to a more individualised medicine. The success of these new approaches, for example, is highly dependent on the development of biomarkers predicting the curative potential of the individual patient treatment and thereby selecting patients for specific treatments. 

However, it is equally important to ensure that a rapidly growing spectrum of novel drugs for personalised treatment can be supplied at high quality and an affordable price to the individual patient, and that this process is safe and quality assured. Without expert pharmacists performing research, education and structure-building in this context, this will not be achievable. The Congress will therefore help all stakeholders grasp the immense implications and major challenges of this approach. Only with clear understanding of what lies ahead can the structural and other changes related to targeted therapies be adequately anticipated.

Personalised medicine will continuously evolve as new disciplines are added to the process. ‘The Individualised Medicine: Are We Hunting the Holy Grail?’ session on Saturday 24 September features José Baselga and Gordon Mills, outlining their ideas on the future of personalised medicine.


 

Programme Highlights

New Tracks

Modern medicine has to a large extent been transformed by tremendous developments witnessed within industry and technology, as well as cancer management and research in recent decades. That is why five new Tracks including Oncotechnology and Industry are being included in this year’s programme. 

These Tracks will present new technologies such as new diagnostic equipment, advanced radiotherapy technologies, teleoncology development and novel options for laboratory research that are of key importance to improving strategies for both patient care and cancer research. 

The Oncotechnology Track has been carefully structured to facilitate critical discussions between medical physicists, biomedical engineers, cancer scientists, clinicians and other stakeholders, providing a platform to consider emerging technologies and their potential impact on cancer diagnostics, cancer therapy and cancer research.

The Industry Track is a new addition that has been added in recognition of the increasing importance of forging truly multi-professional collaboration within the oncology research community and of working extensively with the pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry to effectively develop new cancer treatments.

The Young Oncologists Track has been integrated into the Scientific Programme for the very first time, emphasising the importance of catering to the needs of young physicians, practitioners and scientists which is critical for the development of the next generation of cancer research and treatment specialists. 

The Education Track covers one of the cornerstones of good cancer treatment and care, including state-of-the-art guidelines for different disease stages of frequent, such as breast cancer, as well as uncommon tumour types. 

Three must-attend Educational Symposia will focus on how best to tackle advanced disease in cancer patients, including those with breast, colorectal and ovarian cancer.


Regulatory Track

The Regulatory Track includes a number of highly relevant sessions and talking points, including a special session on ‘Issues in Economic Evaluation of New Cancer Therapies, a Scientific Symposium on Clinical Trial Methodology’, as well as a special session on ‘Cross-Over in Trials’.  The Debate calls for active discussion of the following point of view: ‘This House Believes That Prospective Randomised Trials Should Be Stopped If At Interim Analysis a Sufficient Positive Effect Can Be Detected’, and the ESOP Society Session on ‘Oral Chemotherapy: From Absorption to Adherence: Is The Patient Being Treated?’ is calling for attention to the real focus of multidisciplinary care.

 

New data

The best discussions are also triggered by abstracts. Some of the best new data in Europe and beyond will be showcased. The Track Chairs and I are very excited about the extensive amount of new
data that will feature as proffered
papers – more than previously submitted – and are relishing the stimulating dialogue that will no doubt emerge
as a direct result.

Late-breaking abstracts will form the core of the four Presidential Sessions in Stockholm, as well as featuring in proffered paper sessions. We have increased the number of oral presentation slots to provide a leading showcase for these latest developments in practice-changing studies of new and significant scientific importance. This data will help accelerate the promise of personalised medicine; impact directly on our patients through more effective prevention strategies, earlier diagnosis and better treatment modalities; as well as succeed in bringing cutting-edge data back
to Europe. 

 

Satellite Symposia

Dynamic debate and exchange between researchers, clinicians and the pharmaceutical and technical industries ultimately contributes to improved understanding, management and care of cancer patients. 

The Industry-Sponsored Satellite Symposia are designed to facilitate critical insight, challenging questioning and interactive discussions.

 

Other highlights

Launched at the 2009 Congress in Berlin, the Oncopolicy Track will continue to embrace all stakeholders to address and tackle issues of prime importance to the European cancer community head-on, as well as promote and foster continued improvement at EU Level. 

Similarly, both the Patient Advocacy/Ethics Track and the Oncology Nursing Track are fully integrated within the core Scientific Programme to ensure full participation of all disciplines on issues of shared concern to cancer patients, advocates and professionals alike. This also enables participation of cancer nurses in all Programme sessions, a crucial step for identifying future directions aimed at improved patient care across Europe.

Participants at the Teaching Lectures can enjoy and learn from other state-of-the-art lectures given by leading experts within the field. 

These will cover a host of topics promising cross-discipline appeal, followed by interactive debate and open discussions. The Interactive Sessions will address hot topics from different specialties, presenting views from the truly multidisciplinary perspective through Case Studies. All Educational Symposia will be web captured and offered as e-learning (including downloadable reading materials, manuscripts, PowerPoint slides etc. online). 

Each one will be Accreditation Council of Oncology in Europe accredited and awarded the corresponding number of Continuing Medical Education credit points.

In the hope that you will support our dedicated efforts, we look forward to receiving your registration and welcoming you to Stockholm this coming September. If you are not able to attend, you can keep up-to-date on the latest developments and experience the sessions as if you were there through our web cast service. See the ECCO website for more details (www.ecco-org.eu/webcasts).

Let us continue to advance European cancer therapeutics and prevention, striving to do and be the best we can be for the betterment of cancer treatment and care, together.

 



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