Marking the 20th edition of ESMO’s World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, a star cast of invited speakers are about to gather in Barcelona, 20 – 23 June 2018, for this premier global event within the field. Convening trailblaizing experts to share, debate, discuss and even challenge the very latest findings, avant-garde approaches, and best practices in treating patients with cancer of the gastrointestinal track, speakers and participants alike all share the determined ambition of reversing current global statistics that rank gastrointestinal malignancies as leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide.

Co-chaired by Mario Dicato, Luxembourg Medical Center, and Eric Van Cutsem, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven (Belgium), with VHIO’s Director and ESMO President Josep Tabernero as Vice Chair, the comprehensive scientific program par excellence offers an impressive total of 22 different core Sessions packed with an exciting range of educational opportunities including keynotes, debates, concurrent sessions and symposia. ESMO’s GI World Congress has surely delivered once again on appealing to each and every stakeholder who will be joining us on the ground in Barcelona for the meeting famed for ‘mosts’ in gastrointestinal cancer.

In the exceptional company of the many leading gastroenterology, oncology, pathology, and hepatology experts, clinicians, and surgeons who will be sharing their expertise and data during the meeting, VHIO’s medical oncologists and clinical investigators will also be making important contributions to the program. Just some of the many highlights will include:

The first Session and Welcome, led by Josep Tabernero and the two Congress Chairs, will include the presentation of selected abstracts covering bile duct and liver cancers, and the Opening Lecture on The microbiome in colon cancer, to be delivered by Herbert Tilg, Medical University of Innsbruck (Austria).

Session II: Cancer of the Pancreas and Biliary Tract, will be chaired by Teresa Macarulla, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Gastrointestinal & Endocrine Tumors Group (directed by Josep Tabernero), and Eileen O’Reilly, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – MSKCC, New York (USA). During the presentation of selected abstracts Teresa will also be presenting results from the Selected subgroup analyses of liposomal irinotecan (nal-IRI) in patients with metastatic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (Mpdac) in the global NAPOLI-1 phase III trial.

During Thursday’s program, 21 June, Concurrent Session 3, Session V, Debate Session V, VHIO’s Raquel Perez-Lopez, Principal Investigator of Radiomics will pair with Christoph Deroose, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven (Belgium), to discuss the current and emerging roles  of MRI versus PET/CT in functional imaging, respectively.

Session VII on Gastric Cancer, will be under the co-chairmanship of Fatima Carneiro, Institute of Molecular Pathology & Immunology of the University of Porto (Ipatimup, Portugal), and David Cunningham, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London (UK). Fatima Carneiro will be inaugurating this Session with her Keynote on Hereditary aspects of gastric cancer, followed by the presentation of two selected abstracts, the first of which is authored by VHIO’s Josep Tabernero and will reveal the overall survival results from a Phase III trial of trifluridine/tipiracil vs. placebo in patients with metastatic gastric cancer refractory to standard therapies (TAGS).

Under the mentorship of Solange Peters, ESMO’s President-elect, the Society’s Young Oncologists Committee (YOC) was created to better serve and represent the interests of up and coming medical oncologists. The Committee, chaired by Guillem Argilés, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Investigator of VHIO’s Gastrointestinal & Endocrine Tumors Group, identifies and provides opportunities to strengthen young oncologists’ skills, knowledge and expertise, while providing a platform for networking with other medical oncologists and oncology professionals.

Representing one such educational opportunity is Concurrent Session III, Session XII: ESMO Session: Focus on Young Medical Oncologists, Friday 22 June, chaired by Guillem alongside Josep Tabernero. Two young rising stars in oncology will initiate the proceedings with scientific presentations focused on CRC. The first, to be delivered by another VHIO leading talent, Paolo G. Nuciforo, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s Molecular Oncology Group, will explore the Role of Fusobacterium Nucleatum and intestinal microbiota in CRC. The second, Drugging TGF-beta pathway as a way to foster immune responses in mCRC, will be presented by Daniele Tauriello, Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona).

Andrés Cervantes, INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute, University of Valencia (Spain), and Erika Martinelli, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Naples (Italy), both internationally renowned for their outstanding contributions to advancing oncology, are also well known as exceptionally generous and gifted mentors and teachers. During the second half of this Session, they will draw on their invaluable expertise and provide our more junior colleagues with guidance on: The importance of having a mentor in the European oncology environment, and How to find a good mentor in Europe, respectively.

Friday will treat participants to two Keynote Lectures back-to-back: first up, Pierre Coulie, de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain – UCL (Belgium), promises an up-to-the-minute masterclass on Understanding relevant immune mechanisms in GI oncology, followed thereafter by our Director, Josep Tabernero’s delivery of Coping with escalating healthcare costs in 2018 and beyond.

Commenting for VHIO Communications, Josep advanced, “My keynote address will tackle the pressing issue of how to manage the skyrocketing healthcare costs in cancer. Framed on the fable of the hare and the tortoise, I will uphold that the entire oncology ecosystem should better combine the alacrity of the former and the deliberate progress of the latter to achieve optimal outcomes for all stakeholders in oncology”.

“It’s not just about treasury. It is currently estimated that cancer now accounts for 34.1 percent of the total pharma industry pipeline, up from 26.8 percent in 2010, and that collectively, researchers are investigating more than 5,200 cancer agents, an increase of 7.6 percent from last year. I believe that we must identify ways to better deal with this avalanche, avoid costly duplication in our drug development efforts, and favor those therapies with proven as opposed to promising clinical benefit,” he continued.

Fittingly, the Debate Session just prior to Saturday’s twinned Keynotes, moderated by Alberto Sobrero, IRCCS Ospedale San Martino, Genova (Italy), and Josep Tabernero, is entitled How can we deal with the explosion of new treatments, and will count on the essential viewpoints and inputs from the three specially selected panelists, Steven Lemery, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jorge Camarero, European Medicines Agency (EMA), and Jean-Yves Douillard, ESMO’s Chief Medical Officer.

The meeting will close with the Outcomes of an Expert Consensus Discussion, The Strategy in Synchronous Oligometastatic Colorectal Cancer, to be presented and discussed by the Congress co- and vice Chairs.

To discover more about ESMO’s must-attend 20th Anniversary GI World Congress visit: http://www.esmo.org/Conferences/World-GI-2018-Gastrointestinal-Cancer.

###