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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:
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.
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 at:www.esmo.org