Why ESMO should be congratulated for organizing its first Asia-specific conference
Authors: A. Shukla, R.M. Dokala
Disclaimer: The article is based on our learning gained via interaction with attendees and selected sessions on indications such as lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other general topics. The views expressed here are our own.
As this was the first time that an international organization, like ESMO, was organizing an Asia-specific conference, we decided to attend ESMO-ASIA to find out how this conference would help oncology professionals practicing in Asia. Due to the time constraint, we could share only key updates (via twitter handle @oncofocus), during the conference. Now that the conference is over, we would like to share our learning.
ESMO and its Asian connection
ESMO, as a platform, is known for its quality of sessions and its facilitation of in-depth discussion on key emerging topics. This is probably the reason why one finds large number of Asians attending ESMO meetings, though ESMO is a primarily European organization. The sheer strength of ESMO’s Asian connection can be understood by the fact that about a quarter of ESMO members are from the Asian region (Ref 1). Prof Ralph Stahel, current president of ESMO, mentioned, in the opening ceremony, that about half of the ESMO-ASIA organizing committee was represented by the Asians (Ref 2).
Oncology and Asia
Oncology practice has a number of commonalities across the world, but it must not be lost on us that there are several region-specific differences as well. For example – an East Asian adenocarcinoma lung cancer patient has higher likelihood of harbouring EGFR mutation when compared to his/her Caucasian counterpart.
To discuss these Asia-centric issues, there are country-specific oncology societies – like CSCO, ISMPO, JSMO, KACO, MOGA, SSO – as well as a pan-Asian oncology society by the name of ACOS. However, there exists a need for an international platform where ‘West’ would meet ‘East’ to discuss issues pertaining to ‘East’.
ESMO-ASIA and its achievements
About 2,200 professionals attended ESMO-ASIA and, notably, though the demographic was predominantly Asian, there were several participants from Africa, the Americas, Australia, and Europe.
Based on our discussions with multiple attendees and from the sessions we attended, we are enumerating the key achievements of the ESMO-ASIA 2015 conference below –
Another interesting fact highlighted by Dr Eniu was that even in the developed EU region, there is lack of availability of cheaper, generic drugs listed in WHO, like tamoxifen, cisplatin, etc. A more shocking revelation was that this non-availability is not because of cost issues but due to drug shortages.
Overall, from the Asian perspective, ESMO-ASIA 2015 was a great platform for networking and exchanging ideas on issues of interest to the Asian community. ESMO should definitely be congratulated for this effort.
1. A Word from the ESMO President: http://hubspot.esmo.org/esmos-continuing-journey-ahead?hit=ehp
2. Opening session & Keynote addresses. R. Stahel, F. Ciardiello, Dec 18, 2015
3. Special Symposium: Nasopharyngeal cancer. A. Chan, J. Wee, Dec 20, 2015
4. Special Session: Geriatric Oncology in Asia. R. Kanesvaran, Dec 18, 2015
5. Special Session: Resource constraints as a barrier to lung cancer management: Developing nations. S. Thongprasert, A. Eniu, Dec 20, 2015
6. ESMO Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale. http://www.esmo.org/Policy/Magnitude-of-Clinical-Benefit-Scale
7. Anti-Cancer Medicines Availability Study. http://www.esmo.org/Policy/Anti-Cancer-Medicines-Availability
Abbreviations: ACOS – Asian Clinical Oncology Society; CSCO – Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology;
ISMPO – Indian Society of Medical & Paediatric Oncology; JSMO – Japanese Society of Medical
Oncology; KACO – Korean Association for Clinical Oncology; MOGA – Medical Oncology Group of Australia; SSO – Singapore Society of Oncology