Brussels is buzzing with oncologists and cancer meetings. I counted six, and attended three. Not a bad average.Oncotourism is widely used as a scurrilous term to describe the frequent flying cancer doctors chasing around the globe from meeting to meeting. Who meantime looks after their patients one might ask? Anyway a whole lot (is there a collective noun for oncologists ?oncoclone?) had more or less randomly planned gatherings in the same city on the same day.
By far the most important was the annual navel gathering and grazing of the EORTC, the most prestigious and proficient clinical trials organisation in Europe, yet barely recognised by the EC, supposed guardian and provider of research funds for EU health. The EC stopped funding EORTC twenty years ago, around the time I was its president. Thankfully the American National Cancer Institute continued core funding, recognising value for money. At the biggest cancer meeting in the world, ASCO, last year’s plenary session showcasing the best clinical research in cancer in the year contained more EC papers than USA. So Brussels may not be paying for the research, but it’s getting kudos, and oncotourist euros.
My main purpose was to present a communications solution for avoiding all this crazy travel to a group of senior cancer institute directors. The EC have recently funded a new project in their Framework 7 programme. It’s called Eurocancercoms, and aims to provide an internet multimedia answer to link all those involved in cancer, researchers, clinicians and most important and most overlooked, the patients. It has eighteen partners clustered in two groups—consumers in one camp and techie people in the other. Hopefully in two years the “one-stop-shop” or "EurocancerGoogle" will be visible and used on ecancer.eu , the online cancer multimedia journal of the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, where I work when not touring to and from Brussels.