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Published on 1 September 2003

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FECS and the forthcoming ECCO 12 cancer conference

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Kathleen Vandendael
Executive Director
Federation of European Cancer Societies
Avenue E Mounier 83
B-1200
Brussels
T:+32 (0)2 775 0209
F:+32 (0)2 775 0200
E:kathleen.vandendael@fecs.be
W:www.fecs.be

The Federation of European Cancer Societies (FECS) was founded in the early 1980s to promote the concept – relatively new at the time – of multidisciplinary teamworking in the field of cancer treatment and management. FECS is an umbrella organisation which incorporates all the major players involved in oncology care in Europe and, as such, is able to promote the multidisciplinary approach for the ultimate benefit of all cancer patients and professionals. The aims of FECS are shown in Table 1. This article looks at the work of FECS, and provides an overview of the forthcoming ECCO 12 conference, to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, this September.

[[HPE10_table1_17]]

What does FECS do?

Developing a network of partners

Members of FECS are regularly informed about its activities and about policy developments. This is a two-way process, with the same mechanisms being used to inform FECS of its member societies activities, initiatives and concerns, to help them move their agenda forward, targeting politicians and other key players at European Union (EU) level.

Promoting oncology awareness in EU institutions
Economic pressures on today’s European healthcare systems, and inequalities in access to treatment and quality of care, have raised the need to defend the rights and interests of patients, and the role of FECS in advocacy activities is becoming increasingly important. FECS has enhanced its relationships and interactions with European institutions in order to raise awareness of oncology-related issues and to move the political agenda in the right direction. FECS maintains close contact with the European Commission’s Directorate General (DG) Research, acting as a partner in funding applications and suggesting the names of experts to participate in different DG activities. FECS talks to MEPs at the European Parliament, to draw attention to strengths and weaknesses in European oncology management, such as unequal access to quality care.

FECS also hopes to organise an event in the Parliament, with the aim of formulating recommendations for the European Commission and the Member States. FECS is also involved in the current parliamentary debate about the recognition of professional qualifications to obtain recognition of medical oncology across Europe.

Communicating with experts, patients and the public
FECS is launching a campaign targeted at patients’ associations, national cancer leagues, and the public. Experts of each FECS member society regularly inform the Federation about news in their field. A professional will be collecting the supplied information and putting it into lay language, while a more specialist version of the multidisciplinary newsletter will be sent electronically to FECS member societies for dissemination to their members, in order to keep them updated about the developments in other fields. FECS believes strongly that it is necessary to improve relationships with patients groups, and it plans to develop ways of helping them to become better advocates in defending their interests in oncology.

Educational activities
In 2001 FECS received a grant from the European Commission for a three-year project which aims to evaluate the needs and gaps in continuing medical education (CME) in oncology, develop the accreditation of CME across Europe, and research new tools for its implementation. The final report will be sent to the Commission in January 2004, after which FECS will explore funding possibilities for its activities in the field of new CME tools. FECS works in close partnership with the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) and its European Accreditation Council on Continuing Medical Education, in order to streamline the process of harmonisation and mutual recognition of the accreditation system throughout Europe. FECS will be meeting with the authorities in EU member states where CME is already compulsory or recommended, in order to speed up the process.

Every year FECS organises the FECS-AACR-ASCO Workshop on “Methods in clinical cancer research”. This allows European junior oncologists of all disciplines to learn the essentials of clinical trials design. Part of FECS educational mission is to ensure the avoidance of errors in the design and conduct of clinical trials that can lead to the abandonment of promising avenues of research, and delays in the introduction of new oncology treatments.

FECS funds a number of multidisciplinary pan-European projects, which are conducted in collaboration with member societies, such as late outcomes of cancer treatment, management of early breast cancer, and a survey of the status of medical oncology across Europe.

ECCO – the multidisciplinary European Oncology Conference
ECCO is the only forum in Europe that covers the entire spectrum of cancer from basic and translational research to prevention, treatment, nursing and supportive care for all types of tumours. It is the FECS biennial conference organised for and on behalf of its full member societies (see Table 2) and incorporates the annual meetings of these societies. ECCO 12, which is being held in Copenhagen between 21 and 25 September 2003, will focus on the importance of clinical research, and especially the use of clinical trials as the key tool in providing the necessary knowledge to advanced routine cancer treatment, and will give a comprehensive overview of early detection and screening. Over 10,000 doctors, nurses and researchers from Europe and around the world will come together to present and review the latest research news and discuss how these developments can be incorporated by multidisciplinary teams into day-to-day practice to raise standards of treatment and care.

[[HPE10_table2_18]]

At the opening ceremony, the current status of oncology in Europe will be discussed and hopes for the future examined, with representatives from the European Commission explaining the role of the EC in cancer care. A number of educational symposia will be held throughout the conference, discussing topics such as:

  • From clinical trials to clinical practice.
  • Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
  • Controversies in ovarian cancer – where do we go from here?
  • Treatment options for metastatic cancer of the liver.
  • Locally recurrent and metastatic breast cancer.
  • Childhood and adult soft tissue sarcomas.

FECS will be changing the format of ECCO 13 to give its member societies the chance to contribute to the scientific programme, ensuring that all major areas will be addressed from research to bedside including nursing. It will also give more focus to patients, with the development of a specific programme that will address their needs and expectations.

The future
FECS, with the help of its members, is in a unique position to continue to achieve its objectives at a European level. However, these aims will only be achieved with help and commitment from all the important players active in the field of oncology.

Meetings
12th ESSO Congress
Budapest, Hungary
31 March–3 April 2004
4th EONS Spring Convention
Edinburgh, UK
15–17 April 2004
EACR-18
Innsbruck, Austria
3–6 July 2004
ESTRO 23
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
24–28 October2004
SIOP (Europe)
Oslo, Norway
September 2004
28th ESMO Congress
Vienna, Austria
29 October–2 November 2004



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