In late January, ECCO2017: European Cancer Congress will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The organizers promote the meeting as the only truly multidisciplinary oncology Congress in Europe where attendees will learn about the most recent developments in mono disciplines from a multidisciplinary perspective and find out how these developments impact clinical practice. In addition to top-notch educational programs developed by a leading team of multidisciplinary experts, the annual congress is aiding multidisciplinary networking with peers from Europe and the world.

In an interview in early December, Professor Michael Baumann, scientific chair of ECCO2017, explained how the new-format congress provides the big picture that all cancer professionals need. He also gave a short preview of the year’s most exciting topics.

Baumann has published more than 350 scientific articles in medical journals. He is the editor-in-chief of the leading international Journal for Radiation Oncology, Radiation Therapy and Oncology. In 2004 Michael Baumann was elected as a member of the Leopoldina National Academy of Science. He has received a number of academic awards, including the Gerhard Hess Prize (DFG 1997), the Michael Fry Award from the American Radiation Research Association (2002), the Regaud Goldmedal of European of Radiation Oncologists (2012) and the Röntgenplakette by the city of Remscheidt (2016). Michael Bauman was president of the European Society of Radiation Therapy (ESTRO) the European Cancer Society (ECCO) and the German Society of Radiation Oncology (DEGRO).
Photo 1:0. Professor Michael Baumann, scientific chair of ECCO2017, has published more than 350 scientific articles in medical journals. He is the editor-in-chief of the leading international Journal for Radiation Oncology, Radiation Therapy and Oncology. In 2004 Michael Baumann was elected as a member of the Leopoldina National Academy of Science. He has received a number of academic awards, including the Gerhard Hess Prize (DFG 1997), the Michael Fry Award from the American Radiation Research Association (2002), the Regaud Goldmedal of European of Radiation Oncologists (2012) and the Röntgenplakette by the city of Remscheidt (2016). Michael Bauman was president of the European Society of Radiation Therapy (ESTRO) the European Cancer Society (ECCO) and the German Society of Radiation Oncology (DEGRO). Courtesy: ©The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ).

“I am a radiation oncologist,” Baumann started. “That means I don’t go to surgery conferences and maybe not to drug conferences either. But cancer, as we know, is treated by a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and drug therapy – this is still true [today] and will continue to be so. That’s why multidisciplinarity is so paramount.

Truly multidisciplinary
“ECCO2017 stands alone in being truly multidisciplinary. It’s the only conference where everyone who has a stake in treating cancer can come together, where all aspects of patient care are addressed. For me, ECCO is unmissable because if I go, I don’t need to go to all the mono-disciplinary conferences.”

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Baumann said that sessions at the congress will cater for the full scope of multidisciplinary experts. For example, in early breast cancer, there will be lectures, proffered papers, tumor boards and scientific discussion. “There will be a continued interest in drug development, trials data and guidelines, alongside an increasing focus on personalized oncology and how biomarkers relate to treatment,” he added.

As the meetings scientific chair, Baumann is perhaps best-placed to reveal which areas of new research look most promising this year. “Interest in immunotherapy is intensifying and not only in skin cancer. We will find out how it could play a role in the treatment of neurological and gastrointestinal tumors too.”

Access
“However, we know that immunotherapy is expensive and the cost of treating cancer is rising overall. Healthcare systems, health economics and health policy will also be major topics at ECCO2017. There must be a rational approach to funding treatment, so we will be asking who should have access to new therapies?”

In terms of cancer sites, Baumann sees particular interest in the areas of gastrointestinal (GI), brain and breast cancer. “Of course the congress addresses all cancer sites, but this is an annual meeting so the emphasis will change from year to year according to what is happening in the world of research,” he noted.

“In brain, there is a lot of interest in particle therapies. In Germany, these are up-and-running, and the UK and Denmark, for example, are beginning to use them. But there is still a lack of data on their use. In breast cancer we are seeing a lot of interest in different systemic therapies and in GI, we will hear about advances in surgery,” Baumann added.

Robotic Surgery
Originating in prostate cancer treatment, robotic surgery will also be discussed for other cancer sites, with research comparing the costs and patient benefits with traditional surgery.

The meeting will also examine real-world data, including the organization and delivery of cancer care in healthcare systems, as well as individual centers.

Baumann concluded that ECCO2017 is not only concerned with what is new, but what is genuinely practice-changing. “We will take a critical look at the quality of new data and ask if it’s really good enough to change the way we treat patients. This annual meeting will showcase what’s really new and what is important in daily practice.”

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