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Bridging the ‘bench to bedside’ gap and the widely accepted approach of mulitdisciplinarity are pivotal in advancing research and improving patient treatment and care. The reality of the implementation and measurable outcomes of both ideals generally translates into palpable debate between professional specialities and communities. In the relentless battle to eliminate cancer, much more can – and will – be done.
The recently announced collaboration between the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) was happily received by the oncology community as a turning point in uniting forces, efforts and professionals across Europe.
ECCO exists to both uphold the right of all European cancer patients to the best possible treatment and care and promote interaction between all organisations involved in cancer research, education, treatment and care. ESMO represents one of the most implicated specialities in such interaction since medical oncology demands a scientific and academic base, a vision of developing and evaluating novel treatment methodologies and an involvement in total cancer care.
To deliver on multidisciplinarity and provide equal access to quality care, neither ECCO nor ESMO can stand alone – a reality that has united the two organisations. ESMO’s membership of ECCO represents a further step forwards in shaping a united front – the convergence of speciality organisations that share the same determination to uphold a coherent, concise and harmonised approach to tackling the second leading cause of death in Europe.
One critical outcome of the collaboration is that the two leading educational opportunities in European oncology, the ECCO and ESMO Congresses, have been combined every other year. By fusing excellence and expertise, the joint ECCO and ESMO Multidisciplinary Congresses are set to draw record attendance through all-encompassing, comprehensive programmes of the highest calibre. Setting the standard for Congresses to come, the first ECCO–ESMO Congress will take place in Berlin on 20–24 September 2009.
Efforts aimed at strengthening oncopolicy will succeed only by standing united. Heterogeneity will fail. Cancer naturally poses a challenge in this respect since, unlike many other fields, it incorporates a multiplicity of inter-related disciplines. The time to get organised is now.
ESMO’s membership of ECCO will be crucial in road-mapping the collective campaign to create awareness of the needs of patients and encourage progressive thinking in cancer policy, training and education at the EU level. Never before has the oncology community been better situated to improve care and research interactivity across Europe. ■