President's Page, Summer 2013
A major goal of my Presidency has been to advance the mission of ECCO - the European CanCer Organisation, in service to our members, the profession of oncology and cancer sufferers. ECCO exists to uphold the right of all European cancer patients to the best possible treatment and care. That is why all those involved in ECCO are committed to connecting all stakeholders who share a vision toward advancing cancer research, prevention, treatment and care.
This makes ECCO unique in Europe, as the Federation that combines the expertise, specialisations, passion and drive of all our Member Societies into a unified voice to strengthen the rights of every cancer patient in Europe to the best possible treatment and care.
A powerful mix
As well as this powerful combination of our 24 Members, comprising 60 000 oncologists in Europe, we have added oncopolicy as one of our key goals: developing priorities for oncology healthcare and research in Europe to put multidisciplinary oncology firmly on the EU health and research policy agenda, while strengthening the position of our Society Members.
The last element added to this influential mix is patient advocacy, in the form of our Patient Advisory Committee (ECCO PAC), to place the patient at the heart of all our activities and educational efforts. The PAC is helping ECCO work in active partnership with patient organisation, maximising their impact through capacity building. For ECCO, patient-centred healthcare is central to achieving true multidisciplinarity.
ECCO therefore advocates at European level with a unified voice, with the aim of influencing the next EU research framework programme ‘Horizon 2020’, to help achieve accurate and evidence-based priorities. These priorities need to be realistic, and clinically-relevant, and should not be overly directed towards industry and innovative markers that do not yet directly translate to individual patient care. Although much is happening at the basic scientific level in this era of targeted therapies, it is vital that we ensure that such discoveries are really reaching the patient.
Oncopolicy 2020: The future is in our hands
This drive underpins ECCO’s Oncopolicy Forum, an annual platform bringing policymakers straight to the heart of discussions about our community’s well-founded concerns regarding policy. At the last multidisciplinary European Cancer Congress in 2011 in Stockholm, the Forum’s emphasis was placed on developing action-oriented solutions to health inequalities in oncology. In 2012, the Forum took place in Brussels and focused on personalised cancer medicine, identifying a number of challenges in day-to-day practice, as well as the means and skill base needed to best address those challenges. A full Report can be downloaded from the ECCO website.
This year’s Oncopolicy Forum takes place in Amsterdam at the 17th ECCO, 38th ESMO, 32nd ESTRO European Cancer Congress, in partnership with ESSO 33, EACR, SIOPE, EONS. As the largest multidisciplinary and multi-professional educational opportunity in oncology to take place in Europe, it is a global platform for multidisciplinarity and a unique opportunity to harness the expertise and experience of the wider oncology community to ensure that existing and future patients have fair access to quality care and to innovation through EU informed policymaking.
This Congress will play a pivotal role in establishing standards for the future in Europe, and beyond. The Oncopolicy Forum’s theme: Oncopolicy 2020 is set to stimulate debate around the hottest topics affecting all cancer stakeholders.
At Amsterdam, the Forum takes place on Monday 30 September and Tuesday 1 October and will continue to gather all stakeholders to address and tackle issues of prime importance to the European cancer community head-on, as well as promote and foster continued improvement at EU Level. It is regarded as the opportunity for guiding evidence-based policymaking in Europe.
The Patient Advocacy Track, being held on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 September will focus on the overall theme of ‘Collaboration’ to promote collaboration between health professionals and patient advocates in relevant areas of the cancer patient’s journey to improve cancer outcomes. It will also include educational topics for patient advocates and opportunities to share and learn from each other’s successful experiences. The target audience for the Patient Advocacy & Ethics track is both patient advocates and health professionals from all oncology disciplines that attend the Congress.
Patient-centricity at the heart of our efforts
Multidisciplinarity helps to ensure that all cancer patients get timely access to expert advice, treatment and care from oncology professionals with the most relevant specialist knowledge and skills. It also provides continuity of care, including provision of adequate information and support for patients. A public symposium in Dutch will also be held at Amsterdam on 1 October, so that patients and the interested members of the public can also benefit from the Congress by achieving a better insight into developments in the fight against cancer; what improvements are being made, and what multidisciplinarity means. These developments should be known beyond the professional world to give hope and encouragement to patients and to help further inspire oncology professionals to do their best on patients’ behalf.
All of this is at the heart of all ECCO’s efforts to ensure that every cancer patient receives the best. Do join our efforts at ECC 2013 from 27 September to 1 October in Amsterdam and add your voice to our powerful mix.
Cornelis van de Velde
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