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Patients Advisory Group

The best possible individual patient outcome can only be reached through a multidisciplinary team approach. Patients have a unique perspective on cancer treatment, care and follow up and, today, concepts such as “patient centred care” and “patients’ rights and responsibilities” cannot be overlooked in any oncology sub-specialty.

This is why ESSO established a dedicated “Patients' Advocacy Group” (PAG@ESSO) within its structure. PAG@ESSO will foster the ESSO collaboration with patient representatives from all over Europe, collect patients’ feedback as concerns their experience in surgical oncology and integrate it in all of  ESSO activities and projects.

PAG@ESSO will bridge the existing communication gap between patients and surgical oncologists enhancing both scientific education on the side of patients and understanding on the side of healthcare professionals. For instance, the differences in the “surgical oncology” definition from country to country can create confusion among patients, while surgeons do not always take into account the patient’s lifestyle before making a clinical decision.

To educate patients to the latest standards of care and explain in layperson’s terms the  advantages and disadvantages of the different treatment options, the PAG@ESSO will organise courses, workshops, cancer forums and working group meetings.

As the affordability, safety, and accessibility of surgical oncology should be guaranteed everywhere in Europe, this close collaboration with patient representatives will be crucial in low-income countries, where limited access to sophisticated surgical procedures (e.g. breast reconstructions) translates into less options and an impoverished quality of life for cancer patients.

The perspective of patients will contribute to improve the quality of the current oncologic surgery procedures as well as of clinical trials’ design. For instance, in the nipple-sparing mastectomy project “INSPIRE ” – launched under the umbrella of ESSO in March 2016 – Ms. Sema Erdem from the PAG@ESSO was invited to collaborate and patient-related outcome measures were incorporated.

Through their influence on social media, national and international sponsors, patients could also contribute to the ESSO initiatives in the field of surgically-orientated research – such as EURECCA , CLIMB , DREAM , and INSPIRE – as more research funding is urgently required to improve patient outcomes.

In summary, the perspective of patients is vital to the ESSO vision to continuously improve cancer treatment quality, accessibility and innovation. Thanks to the PAG@ESSO, patients will have a better awareness of state-of-the-art surgical techniques, while surgical oncologists will better learn patients’ needs and requirements. This innovative committee will ensure that ESSO continues to progress towards a real patient-centred care.

PAG Advisory Group

  • Sema Erdem (Turkey)
  • Zorana Maravic (Serbia)
  • Mark Lawler (Nothern Ireland)
  • Kathi Apostolidis (Greece)
  • Gerard van Oortmerssen (The Netherlands)




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