We are now living in an era of stratified oncology. The European Cancer Congress (ECC) 2013 held recently in Amsterdam provided many opportunities to attendees, including chance for discussions with basic and translational scientists, researchers, pathologists, and clinicians, as well as time for exchanges with specialists from all disciplines. As the key platform in the European oncology calendar of events, 23% of the submitted abstracts for Amsterdam were from scientists, making it the ideal place for addressing issues involved in moving from stratification to personalization.
Precise Diagnostics Necessary
[In Europe, we] have yet to fully acknowledge the importance of diagnostics, and personalized medicine cannot happen without precise diagnostics. Currently, there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop molecular diagnostic tests because there is no clear regulatory path. Traditional diagnostic tests are limited and molecular diagnostics has a leading role to play. However, commitment by funders is required for investment in practice-changing trials to better understand which patients benefit from which drugs/treatments to avoid unnecessary expense without benefit to the patient.
The move from stratified to personalized oncology requires molecular diagnostics to be taken seriously by all disciplines involved and for the European Union and national governments to support practice-changing trials. The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) is working with the European Union regarding recommendations to the Clinical Trials Regulation knowing that without clinical research we cannot make progress against cancer. ■
Disclosure: Dr. Piccart reported no potential conflicts of interest.
Martine Piccart, MD, PhD, is President of the European Society of Medical Oncology and Professor of Oncology at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Director of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute, in Brussels, Belgium.