35th Congress Award Ceremony, Monday, 11 October, Milan
Eighteen centers around the world have received the 2010 “ESMO Designated Center of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care” recognition. The European Society for Medical Oncology certification was established with the aim of integrating high-standard palliative care services into existing cancer institutions and to support palliative care education for medical oncologists and other healthcare professionals.
Dr Marianne Kloke from Kliniken Essen-Mitte in Germany stresses that this recognition "coming from a well-established and highly esteemed scientific society is an honor for our institution. It helps us to promote the concept of a holistic approach to cancer and palliative care. Patients and relatives will come to our hospital because they can expect a high standard of treatment during the entire course of the disease."
Dr Sharon Erel from the Anadolu Health Center in Turkey agrees: "In our own efforts to promote palliative care we have found the ESMO designation to be most effective among healthcare professionals and educators. It has been the reason we are often invited to participate in congresses, workshops and committees and work with the National Ministry of Health in order to help write the recommendations for the National Cancer Control Program. To us the most important aspect is that palliative care focuses attention on the patient's physical and psychological comfort, along with support for their families. Participating in the ESMO program has helped us to learn in what areas we could improve or expand our performance. Palliative care is still relatively unknown in many regions and ESMO’s designation is a way of encouraging cancer centers to develop quality palliative care services."
The prestigious 'ESMO Designated Centers of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care' program has established 13 criteria by which cancer centers are assessed. Only institutions that meet all 13 items are given this recognition.
Prof Nathan Cherny, Chair of the ESMO Palliative Care Working Group explains that these standards can serve as a pragmatic framework for the development of a palliative care service: "If you look at the detail of the 13 criteria that designation requires, there is really a roadmap of how to build a service. In fact, some oncology centers that did not have palliative care services took these 13 standards and developed services from scratch. They then went on to meet the standards of achievement and obtain the ESMO designation."
"We do not care if you are a small center or a big center. We don’t care if you’re a famous center or not. We care about the quality of the integrated oncology and palliative care services provided: are you achieving the best quality of life for your patients and their families? Are you integrating all aspects of patient care: physical and psychological? Are you educating future generations? How are you providing relief from pain and other symptoms? Are you contributing to the emergence of new knowledge through research?"
The ESMO Designated Centers of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care program started in 2003. To date, a total of 91 centers (including the 2010 nominations) are currently accredited following a rigorous evaluation process.
This includes establishments in Europe, India, Argentina, Hong Kong, Canada, the USA and Australia. The ESMO designation is valid for 3 years and institutions can apply for re-accreditation. This year, five centers were re-accredited for the second time and seven were re-confirmed for the first time.
"There is still an enormous heterogeneity in the provision of palliative care services for cancer patients within Europe and there are lots of efforts to improve and develop services in countries or regions still lacking them. ESMO and other major international organizations are making a huge effort to promote integrated care both in Europe and in many other parts of the world," says Prof Cherny from the designated Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. "Oncologists everywhere need to recognize that it is no longer acceptable for a patient to hear 'there is nothing more to offer.' When chemotherapy and radiotherapy are no longer an option, optimal state-of-the-art palliative care services must be guaranteed to preserve the best possible quality of life and help patients and their families deal with the challenges of living with cancer and, for some patients, ultimately dying of cancer.
ESMO has developed rigorous guidelines for advanced cancer patient care and will continue to promote them for the benefit of cancer patients everywhere. Doctors universally agree that the tradition of abandonment must be laid to rest.".
Center for Tumor Diagnostics and Therapy, Department of Hematology/Oncology, Paracelus Klinik --Osnabrück, Germany
Clinical Oncology Unit, S. Anna University Hospital -- Ferrara, Italy
Hopital Mignot -- Le Chesnay, France
Hospital Universitario La Paz -- Madrid, Spain
Hospital Universitari Sant Joan de Reus -- Tarragona, Spain
Institute of Oncology "Prof. Alexandru Trestioreanu Bucharest" -- Bucharest, Romania
Intitut Català d'Oncologia (Badalona) -- Barcelona, Spain
Istituto Neurotraumatologico Italiano (I.N.I) Divisione Grottaferrate, Unità di Oncologia Medica -- Grottaferrata (Rome), Italy
Massey Cancer Center of Virginia Commonwealth University -- Richmond, Virginia, USA
Medical Oncology Unit - Policlinico A Gemelli - Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore -- Rome, Italy
Onkologisches und Palliativmedizinisches Zentrum Landshut -- Landshut, Germany
'S. Giovanni Calibita' Fatenbenefratelli Hospital -- Rome, Italy
Tata Memorial Centre -- Mumbai, India
Unità Operativa Complessa, Oncologia Medica 1, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria di Cagliari -- Cagliari, Italy
University Clinic for Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik -- Golnik, Slovenia
University Medical Center Groningen -- Groningen, The Netherlands
University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center -- Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
Vivantes Klinikum Spandau -- Berlin, Germany