Welcome address of Johannes Bruns
Thoracic oncology is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of tumor entities, including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, thymoma, mediastinal tumors and chest wall tumors. While lung cancer is among the leading causes of death in the Western world, others such asmesothelioma are rare aggressive malignancies, with incidences which are expected to rise duringthe next 10-20 years reflecting the widespread occupational asbestos exposure in the Westernworld from the 1940s to the 1970s.
For some of these tumors, there have been vast improvements in the understanding of theirmolecular biology. Lung cancers, for example, are characterized by abundant genetic diversity withrelatively few recurrent mutations. The identification of driver mutations led to considerable progress in the development of targeted therapies. Lung adenocarcinoma harboring epidermal growth factor receptor mutations, for example, illustrate the therapeutic relevance of such a strategy. Other intrathoracic malignancies could benefit from this conceptual progress as well. Moreover, genetic factors even play a role at different stages of tobacco use and dependence. With the development of agents specifically designed to address these molecular aberrations, the paradigm is changing from the traditional view of chemotherapy to targeted agents, which may be better tolerated. Moreover, the combination of functional imaging, intensity-modulated and adaptive radiotherapy strategies result in technical advances that might lead to higher control rates and a better toxicity profile both for early stage and advanced stage thoracic disease.
Without any doubt, optimal treatment of these types of cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach, where experts from medical oncology, radiotherapy, thoracic surgery, molecular pathology and radiology collaborate to cover the patient all along from diagnosis to aftercare.
For many years, the German Cancer Society has therefore strongly advocated for a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care. In collaboration with the German Cancer Aid, we promote a three-stage concept for the formation of specialized cancer centers, including centers of excellence in the form of comprehensive cancer centers, clinical oncology centers, and organ centers. The ultimate aim of these structures is to provide cancer patients in Germany with a comprehensive cancer care system of a uniformly high quality.
I am very pleased that the 4rd International Thoracic Oncology Congress Dresden brings together renowned international experts of all relevant medical fields – from molecular research to therapy –to bundle their expertise for a multidisciplinary conference. I congratulate the organizers to an excellent program and I wish all participants an informative conference.
Dr. Johannes Bruns
Secretary-General, German Cancer Society
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