ASCO 2010 Annual Meeting, 4—8 June 2010, Chicago
Interview with Professor Michael Baumann (University of Technology, Dresden, Germany )
The ASCO/ECCO joint symposium
Professor Michael Baumann, tell us about the transatlantic initiative which you’re involved in as the President of ECCO. You’ve set up an ECCO/ASCO meeting. Tell us about it.
Well, it’s not an ECCO/ASCO meeting. It’s a part in the meeting, so we are working together between ECCO and ASCO, transatlantic, as you said. That involves, among others, leadership meetings, but it involves also in each of the meetings, be it in the United States, be it in Europe, to have a joint symposium on a topic, which is of concern for both sides of the Atlantic, a hot, scientific topic. It is very important to show to the members from both societies that in these aspects we work together. We just today had a very interesting meeting on personalised medicine in lung cancer, in advanced non-small cell lung cancer, that drew a large crowd, and was very interesting from also the content of this scientific meeting. So overall, we have, as I said, a very good working relationship with ASCO in detail, but also in general, which is important, I think, for cancer patients all over the world.
I think it's interesting that ASCO is now recognising European cancer research and ECCO, and your predecessor as President, Lex Eggermont, was given an ASCO Statesman Badge yesterday, which is a reflection not only of his eminence but the fact that he represents European cancer research, and this baton he's passed on to you.
Yes. And I think that's very obvious that we are recognised all over the world, not only in America, also in Asia, very important also, but particularly with our friends in ASCO we feel mutual agreement on many points, which are of concern for our patients.
So at today’s meeting there were a couple of speakers from ECCO and a couple from ASCO, on lung cancer?
There were three speakers, two from Europe, one from the US, tackling different aspects in lung cancer, from biology to localised treatment to systemic treatment, under the umbrella of personalised medicine. This symposium asked: where do we stand? We found out in that symposium very clearly that there is huge heterogeneity among different patients, so the need for personalised medicine is evident. But where are we in terms of biomarkers, in terms of application of biomarkers for localised treatment and for systemic treatment? And what we found out is that there still is a lot to do, even if we can provide very high quality treatment today, there is much to do, and it’s good if we find that out from two big societies bringing together basically half of the world.
It’s been exciting, you know, to see some of the bit being split up in lung cancer. There is the ALK group of patients, about 5% of non-small cell patients there's an inhibitor for that, with good responses, and then there's B raf which is interesting, and so on. But I'm intrigued by the way that radiation medicine is moving into personalised targeting as well, with clever imaging, and getting smaller field sizes and so on. I used to chair the EORTC Lung Group, and in those days it was a depressing business. But now it's looking quite encouraging.
Prognosis is still poor in many instances, as you well know, but it has improved in others, and it will continue to improve in the coming years, in many more.
So is the next meeting in Europe?
Yes. The next ECCO ESMO ESTRO meeting is in 2011, in September, in Stockholm. And during that meeting we will have the next joint ECCO/ASCO symposium.