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Published on 1 September 2006

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ESMO – the upcoming Istanbul 2006 congress


Håkan Mellstedt
ESMO President

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) was founded in 1975 as the Société de Médecine Interne Cancérologique. ESMO took on its present name in 1980, when it transformed into a pan-European organisation that established itself as a leading and highly respected institution in the field of oncology. ESMO is the leading European professional society of medical oncologists, counting approximately 4,500 members from over 100 countries. ESMO’s flagship journal, Annals of Oncology, launched 15 years ago by Franco Cavalli in Switzerland, ranks among the top 10 clinical oncology journals.

The major focus of all ESMO activities is to improve cancer prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, as well as diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care of cancer patients. Through its Cancer Patient Working Group, in addition to working with patient advocacy groups, ESMO also organises Patient and Family Seminars in accordance with its mission to embrace patients’ needs. The initial theme of patient/physician communication has led to the forging of a patient/physician partnership, to which patients bring their needs and direct experiences, while physicians contribute with evidence-based science, in a united effort to improve healthcare services throughout Europe.

Current developments in oncology indicate the need for treatment by multidisciplinary teams. To this end, ESMO offers multidisciplinary programmes that foster collaboration between different disciplines within the Society, such as medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, paediatric oncology, basic research, hospital pharmacists and oncology nursing.

ESMO President, Håkan Mellstedt, from Sweden, explains, “ESMO is opening up to members from other oncology disciplines, although medical ­oncology remains the core activity. As ESMO develops multidisciplinary oncology both at educational and scientific level, we invite membership from all ­oncology professionals because we feel that progress in ­oncology and cancer patient treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach.”

The major ESMO event in 2006 is the upcoming 31st ESMO Congress in Istanbul, 29 September–3 October 2006. Congress highlights will include sessions on:

  • Pharmacogenetics, personalised medicine.
  • Multidisciplinary oncology.
  • Cancer vaccines and prevention.
  • Molecular-targeted therapies.
  • State-of-the-art oncology. And for the first time at the ESMO Congress:
  • The highlights of the day session: summary sessions of topics from the preceding day to give an overview of the most interesting and important points to emerge from previous sessions.
  • Late-breaking abstracts: oral sessions to present latest research studies with new research findings. And …
  • A record of 14 Educational sessions to represent state-of-the-art oncology.
  • Oncology highlights of the most important advances in cancer treatment in 2006.
  • Controversy sessions will no doubt generate lively discussions on quite emotive topics.
  • A session on ESMO Minimum clinical recommendations will update current ESMO Guidelines on clinical practice for various tumour types.
  • The third batch of ESMO Designated centres of integrated oncology and palliative care will be announced as centres of excellence for patient care in Europe.
  • The fifth ESMO Patient seminar where patients will have the chance to meet oncologists and hear about the conditions of cancer treatment in Europe; discuss and confront doctors about patient expectations in terms of communication; learn how to best live with cancer; and access the best cancer care. A keynote lecturer will be Adamos Adamou, MEP, speaking about inequalities in cancer care in Europe.

ESMO addresses global inequalities in cancer care through statistical analysis of data concerning the discrepancies in the prerequisites for the practice of oncology in Europe and developing countries. The summary reports from this data analysis will help identify necessary improvements in the infrastructure of those countries that have less than optimal healthcare system. They will indicate how to face the challenge of reducing disparities in the quality of care available to patients residing in different European countries. They will also provide further evidence of the need to recognise medical oncology as an independent specialty throughout Europe and worldwide.

Together with the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI), ESMO seeks to identify the necessary criteria for medical oncology departments in comprehensive cancer centres. In addition, the new ESMO Oncology Accreditation Committee (OAC) will examine accreditation criteria for the quality control of patient care and physician education in European cancer institutes, oncology centres and departments.

Standardised training in medical oncology, based on a solid background in internal medicine, has been defined in the Recommendations for a Global Core Curriculum in Medical Oncology, produced by ESMO in collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The training curriculum was published in the November 2004 issues of both Annals of Oncology and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The ESMO Examination in medical oncology certifies medical oncologists and is required to practise medical oncology or be a full member of medical oncology societies in several European countries.

Information, knowledge and experience combine to form the backbone of excellence in clinical practice.

  • ESMO Congresses focus on both state-of-the-art educational sessions and the most recent developments in oncology research and technology.
  • ESMO Conference Lugano (ECLU) provides a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art oncology for major cancer types and special interactive sessions that focus on the needs of young oncologists, including an Academy of Oncology.
  • ESMO International Symposia (EIS) concentrate on multidisciplinary approaches to specific fields of oncology.
  • ESMO Partnership Meetings allow the Society to collaborate with other prominent oncology organisations in meetings on topics such as translational research, targeted therapies,prevention and organ-based tumours.
  • ESMO accredits and supports educational courses, virtual meetings and internet-based projects, thereby expanding the ESMO global network.
  • Following the publication of the ESMO Policy on Palliative and Supportive Care, the Society has moved ahead to identify “Designated Centres of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care” that meet a comprehensive list of criteria and are capable of providing specific training in this important aspect of patient care. The list of centres recognised by ESMO is available from:
  • ESMO Special Programmes are tailormade programmes for colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe as well as those in less developed regions.
  • ESMO continues to serve its members by supporting them in their daily practice and careers.
  • ESMO Minimum Clinical Recommendations assess diagnosis and treatment of various cancers. They are intended as guidelines for clinical practice and prerequisites for basic healthcare services. The guidelines are freely accessible from:
  • For ESMO members who seek a specialist’s opinion on difficult and complicated cases,a web-based clinical discussion forum that allows them to consult directly with ESMO faculty members is available on the ESMO website.
  • For young oncologists, ESMO offers a career development programme of fellowships,
  • translational research unit visits, masterclasses, special educational activities, oncology handbooks, and much more.
  • ESMO is pleased to announce that this year it will award almost 40 grants with the aim of providing scholarships to exceptional, young oncologists. Grants will be awarded in the following categories:
  • ESMO Fellowships.
  • ESMO Translation Research Unit grants.
  • ESMO Palliative Care research grants.
  • ESMO Developing Countries research grants.
  • ESMO Foundation grants.

The great strides and improvements that are on the horizon bring with them the need to transform a wholly scientifically-oriented organisation into a Society that is willing and able to face the multifaceted aspects of cancer care and research.

As the voice and driving force of medical oncology in Europe, ESMO is eager to continue to expand its role in multidisciplinary oncology, in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

For further information
ESMO welcomes members from the pharmacological field. The ESMO website contains details of all the Society’s activities. Please visit the website

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