European Cancer Organisation

December 2012

5th President’s Page of Cornelis van de Velde, December 2012

As I reflect on my first year as President of ECCO - the European Cancer Organisation, I can see a great deal of progress has been made towards achieving  my personal goal of advancing our mission in service to our members, the profession of oncology and cancer sufferers. Indeed, an important part of my presidency is to ensure that the tangible achievements of past presidents are not only continued, but enhanced.

Vision for the future

This is why, together with the ECCO Board, we have defined a vision to guide our continued progress: Striving for multidisciplinarity by integrating the expertise and insights of the different professions and stakeholders that constitute the oncology community to achieve the best possible patient outcomes; taking into consideration the trends that impact on cancer, the complexity of the disease and the specificity of each cancer patient. Our mission has also been reviewed to reflect this, and our key objective is to create an environment in which the oncology community network is always optimised for each patient.

It is clear, therefore, that collaboration, interaction and open exchange between ECCO and its member organisations are central to all our efforts. Our members span the entire oncology spectrum from basic, applied and translational research to practice, treatment, care, prevention and advocacy. International collaboration has become the rule for advancing multidisciplinary oncology. Our Society Members are multidisciplinary in focus and we have established a powerful tradition of learning from each other.

In 2012, ECCO connected and educated 13 000 cancer professionals and patient advocates at eight successful Society Member events. And extensive media outreach activities linked to these international conference activities enabled a further 70 million people worldwide  receive the oncocommunity's messages.

In fact, ECCO has consistently demonstrated the power of multidisciplinarity towards cancer prevention, treatment and care over the years. I firmly believe that multidisciplinarity represents optimum professional efficiency in practice. ECCO has been working tirelessly towards advancing the multidisciplinary and multi-professional approach to oncology.  This year, focus has been placed on enhancing the scientific excellence of the programme for the 17th ECCO – 38th ESMO – 32nd ESTRO European Cancer Congress, being held in Amsterdam, 27 September – 1 October 2013. This congress  will strive to further the role of multidisciplinary oncology by encouraging participation and interaction between all oncology professions, irrespective of their focus.

Providing one voice for unified progress
A multidisciplinary approach towards EU policymakers is proving to be of be equal effectiveness, especially when combining the weight of the entire cancer community and all health disciplines. A major aim of ECCO is to help all stakeholders grasp and respond to the immense challenges posed by cancer in Europe, and to seize opportunities by enhancing knowledge about scientific and clinical advances in the field. This also includes the policy environment underpinning Europe’s fight against the disease as well as wider chronic health issues. In 2012, ECCO  facilitated multidisciplinary dialogue in key issues pertaining to cancer patients and professionals, working with leading European health organisations to forge public health and research policies that respond to the ever-growing burden of chronic disease in Europe.  We have also played an active role in helping to enhance health research and health research coordination in Europe through EU projects and strategic alliances, helping the oncocommunity and health professionals deliver on promises to patients. By working together in this manner, we are building a unified voice in oncology to help shape the EU political landscape.

Of special note this year was the Oncopolicy Forum. This innovative platform inspired  cancer policy debate at EU level yet again by focusing on the scientific, ethical, financial and practical challenges of making personalised cancer medicine a reality.

Distinguished speakers from the EU institutions, patient groups, and the scientific and oncology communities called for a raft of measures to ensure that personalised cancer medicine is able to deliver on its promises to patients. The Forum continues to underpin the oncocommunity’s common goal to achieve the best cancer treatment and care for patients by facilitating continuous interaction with EU and national decision-makers, providing the unifying voice of all European societies representing oncology professionals. In 2013, ECCO will continue to  harness the expertise and experience of the entire oncology community to bridge the gap between science and policy, and maximise the potential for achieving real change through consensus.

Patient centrality is key

ECCO is working towards ensuring that all patients—irrespective of tumour type—receive the best treatment and care. However, as the management of cancer treatment becomes more complex, we increasingly recognise 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. That is why patient advocates now play a role in decision-making at ECCO, with the Chair of ECCO's Patient advisory Committee  having a permanent seat on the ECCO Board. This is an important step forward in ensuring patient centrality and is at the heart of all ECCO’s efforts to ensure that every cancer patient receives the best. 

Looking to the future, ECCO is mindful of the changing landscape of oncology and how it might impact the implementation of our vision and mission. That understanding will enable us to help all stakeholders grasp the immense implications and major challenges facing oncology professionals and specialists in treating an increasingly ageing and diverse population, especially in an era of targeted therapies. It will also enhance our next European Cancer Congress 2013 in Amsterdam.

I stated at the beginning of my Presidency that ECCO recognises that times are changing.  At the end of 2012, our role as providing continued guidance and direction to our member organisations, keeping the focus on the security and positive results and rewards that change can bring has been reaffirmed. ECCO is acting as a true enabler, connector and collaborator for its member organisations and the wider oncocommunity. I am proud of this achievement, as well as the progress we have made in affirming our ultimate philosophy – that every cancer patient deserves the best.
Cornelis van de Velde
ECCO President