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ESMO – the upcoming Vienna 2004 congress


Gracemarie Bricalli
ESMO Communication Manager and Executive Assistant

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) was founded in 1975 as the Société de Médecine Interne Cancérologique, but took on its present name in 1980, when it became a pan-European organisation. It quickly established itself as a leading and highly respected society in the field of oncology and its membership, which now numbers over 4,200 worldwide, includes specialists in all cancer types, as well as professional oncology healthcare providers. ESMO warmly invites pharmacists with an interest in oncology to join its ranks.

What does ESMO do?
The major focus of all ESMO activities is the improvement of cancer prevention and early diagnosis, as well as the treatment of cancer patients and follow-up care for them. To achieve this, ESMO places great emphasis on:

  • Advancing the art, science and practice of medical oncology.
  • Providing continuing medical education to medical oncologists and healthcare professionals.
  • Disseminating knowledge to cancer patients and the public.
  • Fostering theoretical and clinical cancer research and care.
  • Maintaining liaisons with other oncology specialties, cancer leagues, universities, patient groups and, where appropriate, the pharmaceutical industry.

In addition, ESMO publishes Annals of Oncology, which now ranks among the top-10 clinical oncology journals. ESMO’s biennial congresses, held in alternation with the biennial European Cancer Conference (ECCO), present the latest developments in research and technology and offer participants opportunities to exchange views with gifted colleagues in every area of specialisation.

Record attendance of over 10,000 participants is expected at the upcoming 29th ESMO Congress (29 October–2 November 2004, Vienna, Austria), the largest event in medical oncology in Europe this year. Topics of major interest include genetic markers, predicting treatment response, targeted therapies, and the impact of genomics on drug development and clinical practice.

How does ESMO carry out its work?
ESMO was created so that information, knowledge and experience could be combined to form the backbone of excellence in clinical practice. To this end, it provides educational courses, webcasts, clinical guidelines and policy statements. Internet-based projects are being evaluated to provide greater and quicker access to ESMO’s educational materials and to expand its global communications network.

The biennial ESMO Scientific & Educational Conference (ESEC) – the Society’s educational meeting – provides a comprehensive overview of state-of-the-art medical oncology for major cancer types plus special sessions that focus on the needs of young medical oncologists.

An ambitious five-year educational programme tailored to the regional needs of Central and Eastern Europe reinforces ESMO’s commitment to support the training of medical oncologists in these geographical areas. As requested by members in several developing countries, ESMO is offering workshops on palliative care in collaboration with local oncologists; the aim is to integrate supportive care into existing healthcare facilities.

Now that the ESMO Policy on Palliative and Supportive Care has been published, the Society has identified “Designated Centres of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care” that are capable of providing specific training in this important area of patient care. To best serve the needs of colleagues in less developed regions, ESMO has also created a Developing Countries Task Force.

ESMO’s structure
ESMO is governed by a General Assembly, Board of Directors and Executive Committee, headed by the President, who is elected for two years. An Executive Director, responsible for coordinating the Society’s activities, works with a permanent administrative staff at the head office in Lugano, Switzerland. To promote the aims of the Society, ESMO has established three permanent committees:

  • The Educational Committee, which organises postgraduate training and educational activities.
  • The National Representatives Committee, whose 40 National Representatives and six Regional Representatives act as ESMO’s ambassadors in every European country and the six major geographical regions of the world, and work to initiate activities that benefit medical oncology at national and international levels.
  • The Fellowship and Award Committee, which supports the training of young medical oncologists and nominates candidates for the ESMO awards. Each committee is subdivided into task forces and working groups that increase the Society’s areas of expertise.

The Educational Committee oversees all ESMO educational activities, ESMO supported and labelled Courses, the ESMO examination, the Medical Oncologists’ Re-certification Approval (ESMO-MORA), a Central and Eastern European Task Force, a Guidelines Task Force and a Translational Research Task Force.

Under the guidance of the National Representatives Committee are the Young Medical Oncologists Working Group, the Palliative Care Working Group, the Medical Oncology Status in Europe Survey (MOSES) Working Group and a Developing Countries Task Force. The Fellowship and Award Committee sponsors a Career Development Program, Translational Research Unit Visits and a variety of individual awards, such as the ESMO, Hamilton Fairley and Young Medical Oncologist awards.

International communication
ESMO interacts with many international cancer organisations and participates in joint sessions with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) at both the ESMO and ASCO congresses.

It also collaborates with the Federation of European Cancer Societies (FECS) at the biennial ECCO conferences, and sponsors joint courses and symposia with the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), the European School of Oncology (ESO) and the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology (CSCO).

ESMO has also been invited to support educational activities beyond Europe, in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.

ESMO President Paris A Kosmidis (Greece) summarises the Society’s goals as follows:

  • To facilitate the good practice of medical oncology in all European countries through recognition of the specialty of medical oncology at the European level.
  • To regulate the training of medical oncologists. For this reason, a Global Curriculum for Medical Oncology is being prepared by a special ESMO–ASCO Task Force, chaired by Heine H Hansen (Denmark). The Global Curriculum will be presented during the ESMO–ASCO Joint Symposium at the 29th ESMO Congress in Vienna, in October 2004. In tandem with this, an ESMO Textbook of Medical Oncology and a Young Medical Oncologists’ Oncology Emergency Handbook are currently in preparation.
  • To educate healthcare providers through congresses, courses, scientific publications (such as Annals of Oncology), newsletters, guidelines for minimum clinical recommendations and books.
  • To prepare young medical oncologists to become the future leaders in this field.

Dr Kosmidis explains: “Our aim is to provide all our talented young colleagues with equal opportunities for research and education – and equal access to fellowships. In addition, medical oncologists must consider cancer patients as their partners and inform them of different treatment options as well as research protocol opportunities. Working in a global medical community, we understand the need to open our doors to colleagues in less affluent countries.”

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

In addition, ESMO members have online access to sample examination questions, reference materials – including full-text access to Annals of Oncology – and the Educational Book produced in association with the ESMO Congress.
Special web features include a Clinical Discussion Forum, where members can consult directly with the expert ESMO Faculty about difficult and complicated cases, internet-based virtual meetings and web case studies.

To face the challenges ahead, the Society provides global access to its educational programmes and activities, thus strengthening ESMO’s role as a leading authority in medical oncology.

For further information, please contact:
Dr Åge Schultz
ESMO Executive Director
Via La Santa 7
6962 Viganello-Lugano
T:+41 91 973 1913
F:+41 91 973 1912

ESEC 2005,
ESMO Scientific & Educational Conference (ESEC)
2–5 June 2005

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