ESSO 36 Report
The ESSO Congress is the event all surgeons with an interest in surgical oncology should attend. The congress is indeed a natural gathering place where the surgical oncology community from all around the world can meet and gain an insight into state-of-the-art technology, latest healthcare services and solutions within their field.
Held in partnership with the Polish Society of Surgical Oncology, the 36th ESSO Congress (14-16 September 2016, Krakow, Poland) welcomed delegates from 58 countries. Encompassing a wide range of topics and featuring exceptional speakers from Europe and beyond, the congress focused on “Optimising European Cancer Surgery” with many sessions and discussions covering issues related to quality assurance, guidelines and strategies to bridge the gap between minimum standards of care across Europe
The congress co-chairs –Riccardo Audisio (UK), Piotr Rutkowski (Poland) and Krzysztof Herman (Poland) – opened the Congress by welcoming all participants and stressing, together with the ECCO President, Peter Naredi, the importance of multidisciplinarity in improving the cancer patient’s journey. All the topics discussed over the three days highlighted indeed the significance of a truly multidisciplinary approach. This approach is based on the belief that every cancer patient deserves a personalised therapeutic plan, where all involved specialists can contribute with their knowledge and surgery can be combined with other treatments for an optimal outcome.
The quality scientific programme of ESSO 36 consisted in a blend of state-of-the-art research, day-to-day expertise, video sessions and debates. On this occasion, speakers provided interesting insights into the latest techniques and discoveries within the field of surgical oncology, giving the possibility to all delegates to engage with key opinion leaders.
Among the several sessions of interest widely attended, the Symposium “Surgical Oncology in Central-Eastern Europe: Problems and Solutions” – chaired by Peter Naredi, ECCO President, and the Congress Co-Chair Piotr Rutkowski – further developed the congress’ fil rouge. The specific issues of Central and Eastern Europe – e.g. limited healthcare resources, the recognition of surgical oncology as a separate medical specialty – and possible solutions for a unified oncological surgery in Europe were discussed during this symposium, together with experts from Russia, Latvia, Hungary and Poland.
The evolution of surgical oncology techniques for a better patients’ quality of life was the focus of the “Endpoints in Surgical Oncology” session, chaired by S. Bonvalot (France) and W. Ceelen (Belgium) on the first Congress day. The importance of the co-ordination of surgery with other treatments, the role of surgery in metastatic diseases, the validated use of laparoscopy/robotic surgery and reconstructive surgery were discussed by several experts, and many examples were presented.
The multidisciplinary session “Translating Basic Science in Cancer Surgery to Clinical Care” demonstrated the central role of surgeons in giving cancer patients the optimal care and chances for after treatment quality of life. Surgical oncologists are nowadays in charge of assessing the risks entailed by each treatment options on the basis of recent translational research knowledge; with the contribution of K. Soreide (Norway) and P. Naredi (Sweden), participants in this session exchanged views on the potential of using biomarkers, the importance of certain tumour mutations and of cancer immunology in deciding which surgical procedure to use, the extent of resection margins, and other aspects of the daily work of a surgical oncologist.
Chaired by S. Evrard (France) and A.E. Giuliano (USA), the Scientific Symposium on clinical research in surgical oncology debated the overlooked role of surgery in cancer research, recently pointed out by the CancerWorld cover story “The invisible cure. Should we be talking more about cancer surgery?”, Very few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are published by surgeons and only 5% of funding in oncology goes to surgical trials. As the reason of this situation could be found in the inadequacy of the RCT concept in the field of surgical oncology, a new complementary approach based on dedicated, comprehensive research platforms focusing on feasible and prospective surgical studies was therefore presented on this occasion, together with the recent EURECCA project INSPIRE – International Nipple Sparing Mastectomy Registry (led by ESSO Board members Riccardo Audisio and Isabel Rubio) and joint initiatives by ESSO, JCOG and EORTC – such as the ESSO Clinical Research pilot projects CLIMB and DREAM (led by ESSO Board member Serge Evrard in collaboration with EORTC).
At the multidisciplinary session “Robotic Surgery in Gastrointestinal Cancer: Hype or Hope”, participants had the opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits but also the controversial aspects of robotics in surgical oncology. The future directions of new robotic technologies were at the core of the discussion, which benefitted from the participation of expert robotic surgeons including D. Perez (Germany) and D. D'Ugo (Italy).
In the last decades, the progressive understanding of the biologic concepts that surround breast cancer changed the management of this disease and, at the same time, surgical treatments also evolved to a more conservative approach. Chaired by M. Leidenius (Finland) and F. MacNeill (United Kingdom), the symposium “Scientific Challenges in Breast Cancer Treatment” tried to uncover the new personalised medicine approach for managing breast cancers (e.g. genetic testing, liquid biopsies, minimally invasive techniques), tailoring the best treatment options for each individual.
Other congress sessions focused on breast cancer, which was the field of interest of the majority of ESSO 36 attendees. For instance, the lectures on the management of breast cancer patients with increased familial risk from the Chair of the ESSO Education and Training Committee Lynda Wyld (UK), and the one on cancer in the augmented breast from the incumbent ESSO President-Elect Tibor Kovacs (UK - Hungary) encountered a lot of interest from participants during the Scientific Symposium “Hot Topics in Breast Cancer”. The Scientific Symposium “Are we over-treating cancer patients?” and the oncopolicy session on the minimum standards of care across Europe – where the latest progresses of the Lancet Oncology Commission on Global Cancer Surgery in addressing the underestimated role of surgery in national cancer plans were illustrated – revealed to be other hot topics for discussion. At the Niall O'Higgins Proffered Paper Session the first results of another EURECCA initiative, the International Watch & Wait Database (IWWD) for Rectal Cancer – the largest retrospective series of patients with rectal cancer in which surgery was waived after induction therapy – were presented.
During the multidisciplinary session with the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE), the lecture on the developments from evidence-based interventional oncology from ESSO Past President G. Poston (UK), also raised considerable attention.
The inspirational lectures from a few key ESSO speakers on how will surgical oncology evolve in the next 15 years and on the role of cancer surgeons as the gatekeeper of good cancer care kicked off an interesting discussion during the Scientific Symposium “The Future Environment for Cancer Surgeons”.
Finally, the "Meet the expert" sessions on different topics – from oncoplastic breast techniques to the controversial Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC), from Perihilar Cholangiocarcinoma to Extralevator Abdomino-Perineal Excision or Abdomino-Sacral Amputation of the Rectum – and the “Expert Video” sessions on cancer of the oesophago-gastric junction and breast cancer also contributed to the success of the Congress.
During dedicated plenary sessions, the prestigious ESSO awards were presented to illustrious experts in recognition of their outstanding contribution to surgical oncology on this occasion:
Luigi Cataliotti (Italy) was awarded with the ESSO Lifetime Achievement Award;
Andrzej Kułakowski (Poland) was awarded with the ESSO-PSSO Award;
Niall O’Higgins (Ireland) was awarded with the ESSO Medal – in recognition of his continuous efforts towards the improvement of the education and training of young surgeons, and of his investment in ESSO’s successful growth and internationalization;
The EJSO Award Lecture 2016 was awarded to Daniel G. Coit (USA), President of the American Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO), for his work on lymph nodes.
Several young surgeons were rewarded for their presentations, posters, initiatives and videos during the congress. The “Niall O’Higgins Award for the best proffered paper” went to Y.W. Kim (Korea) for his presentation on "Laparoscopy-assisted versus open D2 distal gastrectomy for advanced gastric cancer".
The “ESSO Best Video Poster Prizes” were awarded to:
1st prize to B. Bodanese (Brazil) for the video on “Body Gastric Cancer: Laparoscopic Total Gastrectomy”
2nd prize to A. Lukashenko (Ukraine) for the video on “Pancreatiocoduodenectomy with partial resection of pancreatic body and tail for a multifocal neuroendocrine tumour”
3rd prize to A. Zhygulin (Ukraine) for the video on “Oncoplastic lumpectomy with LICAP perforator flap reconstruction + SLNB”
The “ESSO Awards for the Best Posters” were presented to:
1st prize to Karol Polom (Italy) for the poster on “Heterogeneity of new molecular gastric cancer classifications. Clinico-pathological characteristic”;
2nd prize to Karl Mrak (Austria) for the poster on "Diverting ileostomy versus no diversion after low anterior resection for rectal cancer: A prospective, randomized, multicenter trial”;
3rd prize to Kristien Keymeulen (the Netherlands) for the poster on “The effect of preoperative breast MRI on the surgical management of ductal carcinoma in sity and the risk of contralateral breast cancer" (all posters are available in a pdf format from the ESSO congress webpage).
Finally, the ESSO-BSSO International Exchange Programme was also showcased at ESSO36, with an award to the first visiting observer, Raquel de Fátima Quintino (Brazil).
We are pleased that having the congress in Krakow enabled the participation of many Eastern European delegates, not only from Poland but also from Ukraine, Romania, Lithuania, etc. ESSO 36 also encountered a quite high representation of surgeons from Asia, and in particular Indonesia, Japan, India, and Korea. The general atmosphere of ESSO 36 was amicable, with nice welcome receptions and the visits of the new ESSO fellows and observers. Our Society booth was very busy all congress long, a few interviews with key stakeholders from the community took place there (you will read about them in this and in the upcoming ESSO newsletters), as well as the first sales of the very demanded ESSO textbook “Surgical Oncology Theory and Multidisciplinary Practice – 2nd edition”, a reference work encompassing advances in cancer surgery and new adjunctive therapies to improve operative outcomes. Furthermore, the joint ESSO-SSO Global Core Curriculum – a major achievement of 2016 – was presented and the ESSO scientific journal EJSO – the Journal of Cancer Surgery ensured coverage and scientific support to the congress, disseminating the latest innovations revealed in Krakow.
The Congress also saw the launch of the new European School of Soft Tissue Sarcoma Surgery, an important ESSO initiative in collaboration with a CTOS (Connective Tissue Oncology Society) and some European reference centres specialised in the surgical treatment of soft tissue sarcoma, a rare pathology where more structured knowledge is greatly needed.
As communication with patients is of key importance to ESSO, a meeting between the ESSO Executive Committee and leading patients’ advocates took place on the occasion of this congress in order to foster the ESSO collaboration with patient representatives from all over Europe.
Not to neglect the needs of young surgeons, the ESSO Young Surgeons and Alumni Club (EYSAC) held an interesting symposium on “Your Career in Surgical Oncology” during the Congress. EYSAC members could also socialize and network with prominent surgical oncologists during a well-attended networking dinner on the first congress day, and they also showed their enthusiasm in connecting with ESSO via the social media, following in particular the recently launched ESSO Twitter account @ESSOnews and the EYSAC Facebook page (we warmly invite you to do the same!).
Building on the success of the previous congresses, ESSO 36 provided a unique educational platform with a top-quality programme and exceptional speakers, who contributed to the dissemination of the best knowledge and expertise to the ESSO community. After the plenary lecture from the ESSO Medal awardee, Niall O’ Higgins (Ireland), the congress came to an end with the past and new ESSO Presidents and the ECCO President inviting participants to attend the next ESSO appointment, the ESSO 37 Society Day – a one-day educational conference focusing on breast cancer and colorectal surgical oncology, on the first day of the European Cancer Congress (27th January 2017, Amsterdam, the Netherlands).