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What is ESMO and Why Did I Attend?

Along with my fellow lung cancer patient advocate Jill Feldman, I had the good fortune to attend ESMO in Munich, Germany in October. What is ESMO? ESMO stands for the European Society for Medical Oncology and is an annual conference attended by approximately 25,000 oncologists, researchers, patient advocates and other medical professionals from around the world. The location of the meeting changes yearly — next year it will take place in Barcelona, Spain. If you’ve heard of the annual ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) conference that takes place in Chicago, ESMO is the European equivalent.

Making our advocacy efforts a global focus

As we are growing our EGFR Resisters Lung Cancer group, we wish to make sure our initiative has a global focus. Attending ESMO allowed us to interact with patient advocates from all over the world and get connected with lung cancer advocacy groups outside of the United States such as Lung Cancer Europe (LuCE). We met oncologists and other practitioners from different countries and were able to learn more about the varying challenges faced by patients and the medical community in other locations. Access to some of the life-extending medications and clinical trials that we have in the United States is not available to lung cancer patients everywhere.

Meeting advocates from around the world

At the opening ceremony of ESMO, we were able to see three pioneers in the field of EGFR lung cancer win awards for their work — Dr. Pasi Janne, Dr. Tony Mok and Dr. Jean-Charles Soria. Dr. Pasi Janne, who won the ESMO Translational Research Award, is one of our Medical Advisors for the EGFR Resisters and was the co-discoverer of the EGFR mutation. We even were able to meet a couple of our international members of the EGFR Resisters while at ESMO. We spent time with Stefanie Bartle from Munich, an extremely knowledgeable advocate and caregiver for her father, who has EGFR positive lung cancer. We met Fredrik Johansson from Sweden, a fellow EGFR positive patient advocate who was leading several of the sessions in the patient advocacy track of the conference.


Most of the patient advocacy track sessions were held either at lunchtime or in the evening so that they did not conflict with the scientific sessions at ESMO. I thought this was a fantastic plan because patient advocates were not forced to choose between attending the advocacy vs. scientific track and as a result, led to increased attendance at patient advocacy sessions. This model should be followed at more conferences that are attended by patients!

Finding time to enjoy Munich

Our ESMO registration included a free pass to all public transportation within Munich, which allowed us to do a little sightseeing as well while we were there. Munich is a beautiful city with lots of great food and shopping. For those of you who automatically associate October and Munich with Octoberfest, let me tell you something that surprised me. We missed Octoberfest because evidently Munich’s Octoberfest now takes place in September instead of October in order to take advantage of nicer weather!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.