Public Release: 

ESMO Precision Medicine Glossary published today

European Society for Medical Oncology

LUGANO, Switzerland, 13 November, 2017 - ESMO, the leading professional organisation for medical oncology, is pleased to announce the publication of the ESMO Precision Medicine Glossary in the Annals of Oncology. (1) The 43 definitions are set to pave the way for consistent communication on precision medicine between oncologists, reseachers and patients by standardising the language in the field.

ESMO has been a leading authority on shaping the paradigm shift in cancer treatment towards precision medicine, which tailors therapeutic interventions to the individual molecular features of a patient and/or their disease. (2) The field of precision medicine has brought many new concepts and terminologies that are often poorly defined when first introduced, and may subsequently lead to miscommunication.

ESMO is committed to promoting clarity in precision medicine and ensuring that it is accessible to all cancer patients. This novel glossary is an example of ESMO's ongoing dedication to supporting oncologists in a fast-changing professional environment which increasingly demands highly specialised expertise and a grasp of complex concepts in molecular biology, as stated in the ESMO 2020 Vision. (3)

Prof Fabrice André, corresponding author of the paper, said: "The glossary is all about providing those working in oncology with common terminology. It is an important tool for improving understanding and communication in this field and should be essential reading for every oncologist."

The terms included are those identified in an ESMO member survey, as causing oncologists the most confusion. Each term was defined by a consensus of experts in the field. The definitions are grouped into five main themes: mechanisms of decision; characteristics of molecular alterations; tumour characteristics; clinical trials and statistics; and new research tools.

"This is not a glossary of scientific terms," said Dr Lucy Yates, first author of the paper. "ESMO already has the Glossaries in Molecular Biology of Cancer and Molecular Techniques, which cover the technical terminology in the area. (4) This latest glossary is different in that it deals with all the new concepts in precision medicine that have emerged in the last 5-10 years. I am not aware of anything similar to the ESMO Precision Medicine Glossary being available elsewhere."

André said: "This glossary should go a long way towards making sure that we are all speaking the same language in precision medicine. Oncologists can feel confident that they are using the correct terms when speaking to colleagues and patients and this will maximise our use of precision medicine to benefit patients with cancer."


Notes to Editors

Video with Dr Lucy Yates on the ESMO Precision Medicine Glossary:


(1) Yates LR, Seoane J, Le Tourneau C, et al. The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Precision Medicine Glossary. Ann Oncol. 2018, DOI: 10.1093/annonc/mdx707,, [epub ahead of print]

(2) Ciardiello F, Arnold D, Casali PG, et al. Delivering precision medicine in oncology today and in future-the promise and challenges of personalised cancer medicine: a position paper by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Ann Oncol. 2014; 25:1673-1678, DOI:

(3) ESMO 2020 Vision

(4) The Glossary in Molecular Biology of Cancer and the Glossary in Molecular Techniques is a publication offered to ESMO members

About the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)

ESMO is the leading professional organisation for medical oncology. With 17,000 members representing oncology professionals from 150 countries worldwide, ESMO is the society of reference for oncology education and information. We are committed to supporting our members to develop and advance in a fast-evolving professional environment.

Twitter: @myESMO


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