Prof. Michael Baumann: Overview of the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm

Prof. Michael Baumann, MD is the President of the European CanCer Organization and the Congress Chair for this 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress in Stockholm. In this segment he discusses the theme of personalized medicine for the 2011 congress as well as how they have incorporated more patients and advocates into their ongoing agenda.

The Group Room at the 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference was made possible, in part, by:

 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Selma Schimmel, Founder & CEO, Vital Options International:

This is Selma Schimmel at the Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress 2011 in Stockholm. Professor Doctor Michael Baumann, you wear many hats at this meeting and I’m very pleased that you made some time to talk to us. You’re the president of ECCO, you’re the president of this multidisciplinary congress. Explain the reason that this is a multidisciplinary meeting is a very distinguishing factor for what happens here.

Prof. Michael Baumann, MD, ECCO President & EMCC Congress Chair 2011:

Right. So what we see in clinical practice today is that we treat cancer patients in teams of specialists coming from different disciplines. For example, surgeons meet radio oncologists, internal medicine people, medical oncologists, diagnostic radiologist, pathologist and they all form a team reviewing the disease of the patient and then deciding together what the best treatment is for individual patient. And this is multidisciplinary cancer treatment care today and that has been proven to be of great advantage for cancer patients. So we have much better results in terms of killing the cancer, but also in terms of preventing toxicity and having high quality of life. And this multidisciplinary cancer conference does exactly the same what is taking place in clinical practice. It brings together these different specialist to talk on the different tumor sides and also on different methodologies together. And they are presentations from different disciplines in the same sessions. So we communicate our data, our strengths, also our weaknesses which we have in covering specific disease, and we identify together what is the way to go in research so that we can help future cancer patients more effectively.

Selma Schimmel:

ECCO is an organization that focus of is work is what, exactly?

Prof. Michael Baumann:

ECCO is the European CanCer Organization. It’s a federation, and it brings together all the different societies which are involved in cancer treatment, and cancer research, and cancer care. It also brings together patient advocacy groups together with professionals in the field. So we are federation, umbrella organization, and our aim is to promote this thought of multidisciplinarity. That is our main effort to do that and that is to provide each cancer patients the best we can offer today, and future cancer patients better treatments.

Selma Shimmel:

And the relationship between ECCO and ESMO as an example – we just had the ESMO meeting last year about the same time. How do – and well, there’s three organizations involved here – but how do the three organizations interface together to create this meeting?

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Right. So the three organizations which carries this meeting are ECCO, ESMO, and Medical Oncology Society and I suppose Radiation Oncology Society. And they both are members of ECCO so both ESMO and ESTRO both are members of ECCO, there are any other members of society – 24 at the time being – and they all work together to create this program. And so it was a big scientific committee of experts from different fields, and they reviewed what’s new and then they brought together the treks and the sessions. So we have a total of 33 different treks in this meeting, and they were all created based on this multidisciplinary model.

Selma Shimmel:

And while this is a European meeting it certainly has an international flavor in the sense that there’s quite a few Americans at this meeting as well.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Americans, Asians, so it’s indeed international meeting with the focus of course, on Europe, but as usual and rightly so these meeting attract people from all over the world. It’s the same for American meetings which also are attended by quite a number of Europeans.

Selma Schimmel:

I’m curious Professor Baumann, the differences you think philosophically maybe, in the way in the US may be approaches cancer on many levels perhaps, versus perhaps the European approach. Are there in mind any differences – philosophic or – any other way?

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Well, for setting together this meeting for example, I think the philosophy indeed is different. The philosophy here is that the different societies which represent the different specialties come together and create a program, like we do it in a hospital. We’re also the different societies sit on the same tumor. So that’s our model here and we think that it’s a great model. That’s a bit different in the United States, otherwise I think that approaching cancer patients, how cancer care is organized, what we do today, what is standard of care, and also what we do in research is very similar in the United States compared to Europe. But in Europe we have a higher degree of heterogeneity between countries, and that’s also one topic we take a look at this conference. We have so-called uncle policy forum in this conference. And the uncle policy forum brings together health professionals, brings together patients, but brings together also policy makers because we are not alone. We have to talk to the outside world, out of the uncle community. So there are policy makers, which decide on how health care systems look like in Europe, and they are very different. So we want to talk to policy makers. We need to talk to tax payers because we have to explain how we use their money for cancer research. All these things are very important and that’s our approach in this uncle policy meeting, which is an annual event in the ECCO-ESMO conference, always taking place in the conference. And there we have for this year the topic of health and equality, which are very obvious here, which we want to take and we want to give our professional advice and the patients want to give patients’ side, and that we want to bring together with the policy makers on how we can do it better. And the very specific example is clinical trials are very, very important in cancer research, obviously. There is in Europe, there’s like a selection in clinical trials directive set in place almost now for ten years. It has been reviewed, there are shortcomings office legislation, and so we want to discuss in one of the sessions how can we improve what is in need, what is the current experience with what we have. So I think these things are very important feature in a scientific cancer conference.

Selma Schimmel:

Are there challenges based on the fact that amongst these European countries that health care practices and policies vary? You know, France, the UK, Germany, wherever…what are some of those challenges when you bring these countries together when health care delivery may be different in each of these countries?

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Yeah, there are of course problems with that. Then in Europe we have some countries worse in the health care system has to expand on even basic services sometimes. And for this health care system that is the next step. If you do not have enough operating rooms or not enough skilled surgeons to do cancer surgery then it’s something which you really have to set in place. Or if you do not have enough linear accelerators to give radio therapies then that’s very important. So for some countries those are the things which really need to approach now. For other countries which have these situations in place maybe some other questions in the moment more burning than this. And this has to brought together in a conference so we always try also to get an understanding on what the status is in the different parts of Europe, and how we best can improve the treatment and for all cancer patients.

Selma Schimmel:

I would think that the multidisciplinary approach now is more vital than ever.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Yeah, I said that yesterday in my opening speech of the conference – multidisciplinarity is necessary in research as in patient care, and it doesn’t make any sense. Research is for future patients – it doesn’t make any sense to do a bit of research in a very specific field, which in the end cannot be integrated into the multidisciplinary scenario in the best treatment approaches we do today. So also there are unique interactions between clinicians and scientists, and you need interactions between the different disciplines in the medical field so that you really can get the best research results which improve outcome on a short term as fast as possible, at least, and also substantially. And I think therefore you have to think how you can do it together as a team.

Selma Schimmel:

And as you are current president of ECCO, the goals that you are still hoping to implement during the time that you are president.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Well, actually the multidisciplinary aspect also to promote that very strongly meeting was the top note on my agenda – what we still want to achieve till end of the year when my term is over is that we want to set some fundamental rules and ideas on inclusivity in the multidisciplinary scenario. And there’s a discussion on the board, which has been ongoing for two years and we will finish that discussion in November and I think that’s very important step.

Selma Schimmel:

I am very impressed with the real effort that the meeting has put forth for patients, for the advocates, and that the advocates are really here on a level playing field. They are equally important and I’ve been very impressed with the attention that’s been paid to the advocate community.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Yes, thank you very much. But we intended that and I’m very happy that you agree with what we achieved here.

Selma Schimmel:

I do have a final question, and that is really I’m going to call it the emerging role of the proactive patient. This is a very dynamic shift in the way that it was a decade ago, and I’m also seeing how European physicians across all the disciplines are embracing with a lot more comfort, this proactive patient. Maybe you could talk about that a little bit because it is a paradigm shift for Europe with the patient being much more educated and involved in their treatments.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

My opinion that’s a very, very positive development. So in the end we are talking about the best care for the patient, best quality of the patient that needs to be judged also by patient what it means by individual patients, but also by patient groups which have a profound discussion on these things and set priorities which professionals – it’s not only doctors, also nurses – have to take into consideration in to their daily work. So why not talk with patient advocates on how to create a meeting? Why not talk about what are the most burning questions for research? I think this all is timely to do and I think it will help the whole field to progress.

Selma Schimmel:

Well, I congratulate you on what appears to be a great meeting. Your enthusiasm and a lot of warmth out there, people are smiling. And I’ve had a chance to speak to many of the advocates here and they’re excited because of what you’ve enabled them to have here, and you’ve given them – and us – a voice because I’m an advocate too.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Thank you very much.

Selma Schimmel:

Thank you, Professor Doctor Michael Baumann, President of ECCO and President of this Multidisciplinary Meeting. I hope I will see you again in two years.

Prof. Michael Baumann:

Thanks.

END OF VIDEO

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