The momentum continues as experts around the world gather to advance cancer care
SINGAPORE, November 22, 2017 - The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the leading professional organisation for medical oncology, has successfully concluded the ESMO Asia 2017 Congress in Singapore.
Since its inauguration in 2015, ESMO Asia Congress has garnered attention and significant interest from cancer experts and researchers not only in Asia but around the world. This year, the Congress is endorsed by twenty-one oncology societies across Asia and has attracted close to 3000 participants. Year-on-year, ESMO Asia has received positive feedback from its attendees and this year is no exception.
Dr GAN Kim Yong, Singapore Minister of Health, addressed ESMO attendees at the Opening Session stressing the importance of prevention and early detection in mitigating the impact of cancer. "Early detection of cancer allows for timely treatment and a better prognosis. Healthy lifestyle choices and appropriate cancer screening play an important role in cancer prevention." He also reminded the audience that collaborations drive cancer research and cancer research is the foundation for the enhancement of disease management.
According to ESMO President, Professor Fortunato Ciardiello, "The ESMO Asia 2017 Congress was yet another success, and we are pleased to see the new developments and advancement in cancer research, treatment options, and that best clinical practices are being shared among the medical community here at ESMO. ESMO is about people. We are here to facilitate knowledge exchange among medical oncologists and healthcare professionals so that one day, we can conquer the battle with cancer. We will continue to work closely with all our partners in the region to further develop the ESMO Asia Congress, to build on this influential platform, inspire further cancer research, and propel integrated cancer care."
One of ESMO's visions for the year 2020 is to bridge cancer prevention, research, early-diagnosis, and treatment to improve patient outcomes, and the ESMO Asia 2017 Congress lived up to that vision. In addition to discussing current clinical challenges and novel treatment strategies, this year the Congress also sees focus on cancer supportive care and associated cultural issues. Numerous abstracts and studies on the use of liquid biopsy and how circulating tumour DNA can help monitor disease and provide guidance for treatment decision-making were also presented.
A survey was conducted this year by ESMO to understand the current knowledge of biosimilars among oncology professionals. The majority of survey participants indicated that they have average knowledge of biosimilars and more than half of those in Asia use biosimilars routinely in their clinical practice. It is therefore ESMO's mission to provide medical oncologists education on biosimilars, as it is another vision of ESMO to better equip medical oncologists for the fast-changing cancer field with specialised education. In fact, ESMO has already produced a position paper on the use of biosimilars to support medical oncologists with the subject.
The Society recognizes that progress in cancer treatment and management is not meaningful unless there is sustainable cancer care. Hence, ESMO is committed to advocating for equal access to quality treatment for all patients, wherever they live. A study revealing the access situation to recently approved cancer medicines and those that are on WHO's Essential Medicines List was published[i]. "By showing the cost and availability, as well as the various barriers to access of new and essential cancer medicines, we hope to facilitate conversations among key stakeholders in the region so that not only patients in high-income countries can gain access to these cancer treatments but patients in low to middle income countries can also benefit from them," said Professor Ciardiello.
Dr Ravindran Kanesvaran from the host society, Singapore Society of Oncology, reinforced the importance of the ESMO Asia Congress: "Asia has 60% of the world's population and accounts for half of the global cancer burden. Increasingly we are seeing variation in the mutation status of Asian cancer patients as compared to those in the rest of the world. An influential platform that brings together the leaders and experts in the field of oncology around the world is very much needed in Asia. ESMO is exactly that. New knowledge and insights empower us to provide the highest-quality patient care. We look forward to more exchange and learning in next year's ESMO Asia Congress."