ESMO’s position paper highlights role of oncologists toward quality cancer care

Published on December 13, 2013 at 7:51 AM · No Comments

Medical oncologists have a vital role to play in cancer care, particularly as treatments become ever more complex, a new position statement [1] from the European Society for Medical Oncology says.

Medical oncologists are specialist cancer physicians trained to provide treatment with drugs, spanning from the old one-fits-all chemotherapy to newer targeted agents or immunotherapies attacking the disease at its core.

ESMO's aim with the position statement, published today in the Annals of Oncology, is to guarantee to Europe's growing number of cancer patients access to optimal treatment, says Razvan Popescu, Chair of the ESMO National Representatives and Membership Committee, main sponsor of the paper.

"There are many complex decisions to be made around cancer treatment, and recent scientific advances are making the provision of optimal care even more challenging," said Popescu. "Only medical oncology training prepares physicians to deal with this complexity."

Medical oncology as a specialty has existed since the 1960s. It was formally recognised in the European Union as an independent medical specialty and professional qualification only in March 2011 [2].

The new ESMO position paper takes the speciality a step further, by outlining formally for the first time the role of medical oncologists. Developed in consultation with medical oncologists and professional organisations across Europe, endorsed by all medical oncology societies in Europe, it represents a consensus view of the medical oncologist's place in the treatment of cancer.

"We hope that this position paper will be useful to individual countries in their discussions for the recognition of medical oncology as a specialty where it is not yet recognized and to defend the profession where possible challenges arise," Popescu said.

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