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April President page

2nd President’s Page of Cornelis van de Velde, April 2012

As president of ECCO - the European CanCer Organisation, I believe that the best possible outcomes for both patients and oncology professionals, now and into the future, call for a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach. ECCO is the only multidisciplinary and multi-professional organisation that connects and responds to all oncology stakeholders Europe-wide. 

Every cancer patient deserves the best

ECCO places the multidisciplinary approach at the heart of its mission because it represents current best practice and acts as a solid basis for future progress in cancer research, treatment, advocacy and care. Ultimately, multidisciplinarity helps to ensure that all patients get timely access to expert advice, treatment and care from relevant professionals with specialist knowledge and skills, alongside continuity of care, which includes providing adequate information and support.

As the management of cancer treatment becomes more complex, there is increasing recognition that placing the patient at the heart of our efforts and discussions is not enough - patients should have both a voice and a role in the process also. This is what we are working towards at ECCO, together with our society members; ensuring that all patients - irrespective of tumour type - receive the best treatment and care.

A major step towards achieving this in breast cancer was made at the recent 8th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8). This series of conferences not only includes the patient advocacy group EUROPA DONNA as one of its organisers, it now includes patients themselves through the innovative ‘Patient Day’. This event provided a unique opportunity for patients to have real-time access to decision-makers and clinical and oncology professionals involved in the advocacy, diagnosis, treatment and management of this disease.

Moreover, the recognised multidisciplinary setting of the biennial European Cancer Congress, which will take place in Amsterdam next year, is truly unique, featuring a strong balance of representation of all cancer stakeholders. It provides the ideal surroundings for all participants, including patients, to leverage knowledge, promote education and build awareness about oncology - to work toward ensuring that every patient does indeed receive the best.

Progress towards securing the future of research in Europe

ECCO is a founding member of the Alliance for Biomedical Research in Europe (BioMed Alliance). This is a unique consortium of 20 European biomedical research societies representing approximately 250,000 biomedical researchers.

As I outlined in my last president’s page, the Alliance has called for a bottom-up, scientific-led solution aiming to improve the coordination of health research innovation across all biomedical disciplines through the European Council for Health Research (EuCHR). A strategic approach, led by scientific excellence spanning all fields of health, must be taken to address current fragmentation, increase innovation and ensure that the top research results taking place in Europe reach its citizens. This call for action comes at a unique time, when the next EU research framework programme Horizon 2020 is being discussed by EU decision-makers.

Oncology is well represented in the EuCHR Core Working Group, a collection of eminent experts from several health disciplines that can help to ensure scientific excellence governs this body.

To better guarantee a unified voice from the European biomedical community, ECCO and other Alliance member societies have had the opportunity to provide input into a draft ‘Concept Paper’ and scientific case studies outlining the clear need for an EuCHR.

This is an essential step; by joining together with other major biomedical research disciplines, we can ensure the scientific community has a voice on the future of research in Europe. We can also help to safeguard Europe’s competitiveness in biomedical research, and create a healthier Europe for our citizens.

Diabetes and Cancer Research

There is a growing recognition of links between type 2 diabetes, diabetes treatments and the risk of several cancer types. Up to 15 percent of the European adult population is affected by diabetes, so these associations are extremely relevant to clinical oncology practice. However, the quantifications of these associations are complex. The interpretation of the pharmaco-epidemiology faces numerous pitfalls and biases. Both ECCO and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) have embraced these challenges and have backed an international group of investigators, the Diabetes and Cancer Research Consortium (DCRC). This group was set up to address the complex pharmaco-epidemiology related to this topic, and to share data and methodologies to arrive at robust answers, which will better inform health professionals and patients alike.

The 3rd DCRC workshop, held in February this year, was attended by 27 invited investigators from Europe and North America, representing a range of disciplines. The consortium has written two framework papers accepted for publication in the journal Diabetologia later in 2012. This February workshop further developed this achievement, establishing key principles to address biases common to many analyses in this research field, such as detection time bias. A set of practical algorithms to capture data from multiple datasets to undertake future joint analyses was also established. The DCRC plans to submit its findings and updates to EASD conferences and the European Cancer Congress, in the coming years, strengthening our knowledge in oncology also.

Cornelis van de Velde

ECCO President

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