What to Expect: 5th ESMO Asia

Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, Ph.D, Keynote lecture during the 5th ESMO Asia, being held November 22 - 24, 2019 in Singapore. Photo courtesy: ESMO
Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, Ph.D, Keynote lecture during the 5th ESMO Asia, being held November 22 - 24, 2019 in Singapore. Photo courtesy: ESMO

This week more than 3,500 oncology professionals are meeting in the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Center for the fifth edition of the ESMO Asia Congress. The three-day scientific and educational congress, organized by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), is designed to drive progress and contribute to shaping the treatment of cancer and hematological malignancies in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Gathering the most experienced international oncology experts, ESMO Asia is expected to present a comprehensive, regional approach to multidisciplinary oncology, ensuring the best of available advances are applied to prevalent cancer types in the region. The program is also designed to offer high-quality education and share standards of care focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, benefiting of cancer patients.

“On one side we will be looking at the latest advancements in cancer research to keep the medical professionals up to date,” noted ESMO President Josep Tabernero.

“On the other side, we are committed to bringing about high-level discussions with key stakeholders and decision-makers on how to ensure access to optimal treatment and care for all cancer patients, wherever they live,” Tabernero added.

ESMO Survey: Profound Differences
Results of an ESMO survey on the availability and accessibility of anti-cancer medicines showed profound differences in access to treatment between wealthier nations and developing economies.

This is true even in relation to those medicines that are on the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Medicines List.

“Such discrepancies are worrying and signal the need for substantial reforms in health service delivery,” Tabernero, said.

Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, Ph.D, . "...prevention is the most cost-effective long-term strategy to control cancer as 30% – 50% of all cancers are... preventable."
Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, Ph.D, . “…prevention is the most cost-effective long-term strategy to control cancer as 30% – 50% of all cancers are… preventable.” Photo courtesy: ESMO

A growing cancer burden in the Asia-Pacific region
In her keynote lecture, Elisabete Weiderpass, MD, MSc, Ph.D, a Brazilian cancer researcher who is a naturalized Swedish and Finnish citizen and the  current Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a WHO agency, emphasized that prevention is the most cost-effective long-term strategy to control cancer as 30% – 50% of all cancers are preventable.

Weiderpass, an expert in cancer epidemiology and cancer prevention, also emphasised that the Asia-Pacific region, with more than 60% of the world’s population, bears half of the global cancer burden. As a result, she is convinced that national policies and programs should be strengthened in the region.

Under the guidance of Weiderpass, the IARC focuses its activities on producing cancer research of the highest quality and potential public health impact – evidence-based knowledge to support public health policy decision-making processes.

Reducing exposure to cancer risk factors
But aside from raising awareness, there is also a need to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and ensure that people have access to information and support they need to make healthy choices.

This year, with an eye on Asia’s unique challenges and demographics, the ESMO Asia Congress includes a carefully curated program that covers best practices, latest advances in cancer medical treatment, radiotherapy, prevention, supportive and palliative care.

Featuring research that specifically looks at results in Asian-Pacific populations, the 5th ESMO Asia congress discusses, among others, the management of immune-related adverse events in Asian patients; Rare cancers – The difference between Asia and Europe, and Improving cancer care in Asia – focusing on the implementation of cancer registries.