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Inaugural Esmo Asia Congress Concludes on A High Note in Singapore
The ESMO Asia 2015 Congress was a huge success in Singapore, bringing together a total of 2,960 international participants.

SINGAPORE, 21 December 2015 - The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), the leading professional organisation for medical oncology, has successfully concluded its inaugural four-day ESMO Asia 2015 Congress. Held in Singapore from 18-21 December 2015 at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre, the oncology congress saw almost 3,000 medical professionals representing various oncology disciplines from 75 countries, convening to discuss and share key research and developments in oncology.

Comprising of both scientific and educational tracks prepared by an international scientific committee, including leading regional and international experts, delegates were updated on the latest standards of care across different cancer types as recent discoveries in oncology were presented.

Looking forward into the future of cancer care, the area of oncology studies will become increasingly prevalent as the disease will continue to plague more individuals globally. ESMO President, Prof Rolf A. Stahel said, "We can and must help improve the outcomes for cancer patients, everywhere. With ESMO's relentless efforts and dedication, we will continue to support our members in their quest for regular updates. And we'll remain committed to erase boundaries in cancer care, whether between countries, continents or specialities, and pursue our mission 'across oncology, worldwide'."

Prof Anthony Chan, Co-Chair of the Scientific Committee added, "As the leading professional organisation for medical oncology, ESMO's presence in Asia underscores the importance and significance of cancer burden in Asia. As regional and international oncologists form vital networks of information and expertise exchange, this will help to elevate cancer care standards in Asia and around the world."

Among the presentations given during the four days, five major findings that were presented included:

  1. Underprivileged patients at major risk of disease-related 'financial catastrophe'

    Data collected in 8 low and middle-income South-East Asian countries shows 5% of cancer patients were pushed into poverty because of the high disease-related costs (March 2012-September 2013). The researchers showed that cancer resulted in 'financial catastrophe' for almost half of the patients with economic hardship at the time of diagnosis.

    Full release: https://bit.ly/1mu1tye

  2. Asian women with endocrine-resistant breast cancer benefit from combination therapy

    Data collected for Japanese and Korean patients in a global trial provides evidence for combining palbociclib with fulvestrant to overcome endocrine resistance in women with hormone receptor positive (HR+), HER2 negative (HER2-) advanced breast cancer.

    Full release https://bit.ly/1me7a2H

  3. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy: new options for difficult-to-treat head-and-neck cancers

    Phase I and II trials show promising antineoplastic activity of the immunotherapy agent pembrolizumab in patients with heavily pretreated nasopharyngeal cancer, and effectiveness of the targeted agent afatinib as second-line treatment for recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) after failure with platinum-based therapy.

    Full release https://bit.ly/1ODu4rg

  4. Afatinib a better choice for EGFR-mutated lung cancer in first-line treatment

    Patients with EGFR-activating mutations in advanced lung cancer seem to benefit more from afatinib as first-line treatment across a range of clinically relevant endpoints, as reported in a global, randomised, open-label Phase IIb trial.

    Full release https://bit.ly/1S0VE7f

  5. More patients with lung cancer could benefit from immunotherapy

    Pivotal phase 2/3 trial shows that two doses of the anti-PD-1 antibody pembrolizumab and a higher, investigational dose improve median survival in all PD-L1-positive patients compared with the commonly used chemotherapy.

    Full release https://bit.ly/1TWZ0ql

As oncology is a rapidly changing field, which requires even more collaboration between professionals from different backgrounds, and more experience across all areas of specialisation, the ESMO Asia Congress also highlighted the imperative need for an interdisciplinary approach towards cancer care.

This was certainly the case for delegates who attended and shared their expertise and experience during the various symposia and panel discussions. Topics covered ranged from novel treatments of different cancers, to topics focusing on geographical perspectives such as discrepancies in the incidence of different cancers across the European and Asian regions, as well as the factors contributing to these discrepancies.

Dr Wu Yi-long, Chairman of the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology said, "ESMO Asia Congress provides a platform that would allow Asian doctors to communicate together. To some extent, it facilitates cooperation among Asian countries themselves to carry out high standards of clinical research and it helps to reduce the imbalance between them. It is the first ESMO Asia Congress, just a beginning." Dr Masahiko Nishiyama, who is the Immediate-past Chairman of the Japanese Society of Clinical Oncology added, "Globalisation of clinical oncology is advancing at a very rapid pace. We are already reaching the point at which advanced medical research will be almost impossible in the absence of cooperation studies. We hope that ESMO Asia Congress would be a platform for our new collaborations."

Japanese oncologist Dr Akira Kawai, relished the chance to meet with his European oncologist peers. Co-chairing a session on rare cancers with his French peer Dr Jean-Yves Blay, Dr Kawai highlighted the importance of building and improving a knowledge network, where oncologists can exchange information and support when treating their patients for rare cancers. Dr Kawai said, "It was both enlightening and enriching to have been able to share with my fellow peers and colleagues, especially in the field of rare cancers. Without this information network, the well-being of our patients can be compromised."

The ESMO Asia 2015 Congress was also an opportunity for young oncologists to present their research and patient cases. An initiative by the ESMO Young Oncologists Committee (YOC) --which provides opportunities to strengthen young oncologists' skills, knowledge and expertise, while providing a platform for networking with other oncology professionals, young oncologists were invited to submit challenging clinical case studies relative to the new era of personalised medicine.

The next edition of the ESMO Asia Congress will be once again held in Singapore from 16-19 December 2016.

Source: ESMO & Ruder.Finn Asia
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