European Cancer Organisation

December 2013

President's Page, December 2013

When I became President of ECCO - the European CanCer Organisation in 2012, the oncology community in Europe and beyond was facing - and continues to face - increasingly challenging times. I firmly believe that when times are hard we, the oncocommunity, should focus most on issues of joint concern to consolidate our efforts and bring about tangible results together. That is why I have been constantly looking to the future of both ECCO and our professional area.

I was therefore determined to advance the tireless work of past ECCO Presidents concretely in four main areas: extending the scientific excellence of our multidisciplinary Congress, enhancing ECCO’s strategic policy positioning, whilst simultaneously consolidating the ECCO community as well as our role within that community. We engaged in extensive dialogue - both internally and externally - with many stakeholders to understand how the evolving landscape of oncology might impact the implementation of our mission.  Now, at the end of my Presidency, I am extremely pleased with the path we have followed, and the tangible achievements that have been made together.

ECCO’s mission and vision for the future

My most ambitious objective in order to help all stakeholders grasp the immense implications and major challenges facing oncology professionals and specialists in treating increasingly ageing and diverse populations, especially in an era of targeted therapies, was to advance the mission of ECCO in service to its Members, the wider oncology community, the profession of oncology and cancer sufferers.

I therefore committed myself to connecting all stakeholders who share a vision toward advancing cancer research, treatment and care, through ECCO, as it exists to uphold the right of all European cancer patients to the best possible treatment and care, promoting interaction between all organisations involved in cancer research, education, treatment and care at European level. 

It is a perfect match and I believe we have fully fulfilled this ambition through the successful refreshment of ECCO’s mission, agreement on a strong and purposeful vision, and a clear objective to ensure continuity between the present and the future, and to establish a strong roadmap for all our efforts. This platform will help ECCO continue its efforts to build foundations for a united voice in oncology, working in better harmony with its Board of Directors, Members and the wider oncocommunity. We have made huge progress in a relatively short space of time and I am very proud to have led those efforts.

Reinforcing multidisciplinarity

An even greater satisfaction however, comes from the Board’s collective agreement to define ECCO’s shared vision, set of values and objective as ‘multidisciplinarity’. This momentous achievement underlines ECCO’s commitment to integrate 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.

ECCO places multidisciplinarity 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. Multidisciplinarity is of utmost importance to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. To further optimise cancer treatment for every patient, treatment should become increasingly adapted to the individual patient on the basis of tumour type, biological data, as well as imaging and comorbidity data. In this manner, both under and over treatment can be avoided, resulting in a better balance between treatment benefits and treatment-related morbidity and mortality.

The quality of multidisciplinary cancer care is also an issue that ECCO is ideally placed to address, following the process established by the European Registration of Cancer Care (EURECCA), and adapting it to help us understand the actual quality of the general approach.

Setting the standards for the future

Cancer treatment and care are continuously improving with more precise diagnosis and therapy in which the multidisciplinary team aim at better loco-regional control and good quality of life for each patient. The success of our 17th Congress in Amsterdam towards achieving this speaks for itself – we also achieved the highest number of abstracts and the highest number of participants ever accomplished! The strong balance of representation from all cancer stakeholders, as well as the marked increase in attendance from the different disciplines, shows our community’s determination to achieve the best possible outcomes for cancer patients through multidisciplinarity, and acts as a major landmark in ECCO’s efforts towards fulfilling its mission. You can find more detail in the ECC 2013 Official Statistics Report which will be available in early 2014.

Without doubt, ECC 2013 provided superlative surroundings for all participants to leverage knowledge, promote education, optimise their networks and build awareness about oncology - reinforcing multidisciplinarity to work toward ensuring that every patient does indeed receive the best, and setting new standards for the future while doing so. ECCO will be focusing on ensuring maximum engagement and benefit to all European Cancer Congress participants in 2015 and beyond.

Oncopolicy: a driving force for oncology

ECCO has demonstrated the power of multidisciplinarity towards cancer prevention, treatment and care at our Congress over the years, and the Amsterdam Congress proved no exception. ECCO’s Oncopolicy seeks to progress multidisciplinarity through planned and sustained interaction with policymakers as well as third party stakeholders. In doing so we support the oncocommunity and healthcare professionals in delivering on promises to patients by building a unified voice to both represent and draw attention to the joint policy concerns of our community. ECCO is fully aware of the fact that the policy environment underpins Europe’s fight against cancer, and without doubt, ECCO’s oncopolicy efforts are now recognised as helping shape the EU political landscape in favour of patients and achieving the best approach to their treatment and care.

Patient-centric strategy

I am extremely satisfied to have been at the heart of ECCO’s efforts to ensure that every cancer patient receives the best. In my mind, the achievement of a truly patient-centric approach was reached when the Chair of the ECCO Patient Advisory Committee was added as a member of the Board. The addition of the very successful Patient Day to the Amsterdam Congress was a further step towards ensuring that cancer patients are kept at the heart of and informed about the latest developments within the field.

As clearly demonstrated once again during the Amsterdam Congress, International collaboration has become the rule for advancing multidisciplinary oncology. ECCO and its Member cancer organisations are multidisciplinary in focus and have established a superb tradition of learning from each other. I am proud of all our achievements together and remain certain that these triumphs and much more will be accomplished during the next ECCO Presidency with Martine Piccart.

It remains for me to thank everyone for their support during my tenure and to urge continued commitment to achieving the best for all cancer patients through your support and work with ECCO in the years to come

Cornelis van de Velde 

ECCO President