Lugano, Switzerland, 20 September 2014 -- This year marks the 10th anniversary of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Designated Centres of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care programme. The addition of four new countries from across the globe in 2013 highlights the growing importance of palliative care in cancer treatment worldwide. ESMO will announce the new and reaccredited centres during the 17th ECCO - 38th ESMO - 32nd ESTRO European Cancer Congress (ECC2013), 27 September-1 October in Amsterdam, the Netherlands .
Nathan Cherny, Chair of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group, said: "The ESMO designated centre programme to promote the development of integrated oncology and palliative care services for cancer patients has proven to be the most successful initiative of its kind. With over 160 designated centres worldwide the ESMO initiative has redefined the standard of care expected of modern oncology programmes."
The ESMO Designated Centres of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care programme began in 2003 and recognises cancer centres that achieve a high standard of integration of medical oncology and palliative care. The accolade is valid for three years and centres can reapply.
This year saw the largest ever number of new applications with centres now recognized in countries previously unrepresented such as Korea, Norway, Russia and the Sultanate of Oman. Furthermore, countries with a large number of designated centres, such as Italy and Germany/Austria are benefitting from the organized efforts of the cohort of centres to promote the development of integrated oncology and palliative care in their own counties and beyond.
During the past 10 years this prestigious programme has been enormously popular, with increasing numbers of centres striving to meet the high standards required for designation; there are now 161 designated centres in total.
In 2013 there were 37 successful new entrants including first-time countries, underlining the increasing emphasis on palliative care in cancer programmes even in parts of the world where it has often been neglected due to financial limitations or cultural differences. In addition, 26 centres achieved reaccreditation: seven have been continuously accredited since 2004, four since 2007 and 15 since 2010. This demonstrates the importance of maintaining the respected ESMO designation.
Successful applicants are bestowed the celebrated title "ESMO Designated Centre of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care". They can also use the ESMO logo and host fellows in palliative medicine who are supported by ESMO grants.
Cherny said: "The ESMO Designated Centre of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care title is highly sought after and centres are keen to receive and display this recognition. This coveted acknowledgment is a source of pride for centres and their staff and demonstrates to the outside world that they deliver palliative care as an integral part of their medical oncology services."
Oncology departments and cancer centres internationally that provide comprehensive services in supportive and palliative care as part of their routine care can apply for the ESMO recognition. The programme aims to promote the integration of palliative care services into cancer care guidelines, and stimulate palliative care education and training for medical oncologists and other healthcare professionals. The criteria for accreditation are based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on palliative care for cancer patients.
Cherny said: "We are hoping that with the ever rising profile of this important ESMO designation, by 2020 we will have more than 300 designated centres across the ESMO membership."