Message from the President and the Office

Summer is here, and I wish all of you a well-deserved relaxing holiday period. We have been very busy in the past months, and we are just back from our General Assembly, which took place on Thursday 29th June 2017 in Brussels. I have been particularly glad to welcome two EU-wide developments that will benefit our community: the official launch of the European Reference Network on paediatric cancer (ERN PaedCan) and the first activities of the EU Joint Action on Rare Cancers (JARC). Excellent European healthcare centres and clinics are worldwide renowned for their expertise in treating paediatric malignancies. At the same time, other regions of Europe lack the resources and highly-specialised know-how required to ensure the correct implementation of treatment protocols. This is why, by providing a clear and robust collaborative structure, implementing the ERN PaedCan will represent more treatment options and less administrative barriers for all European patients and their families. The Work Package we are coordinating within the Joint Action on Rare Cancers (JARC) will define other measures to ensure access to standard treatments and innovative therapies for all childhood cancer patients. In the next three years, together with our partners, we will do our best to formulate policy recommendations and consolidate models of healthcare guidelines to make sure Member States deliver optimal care and research for young patients with extremely rare cancers, as well as for childhood cancer survivors. An important SIOPE-led initiative – that is assessing the quality of the use of radiotherapy in children and adolescents with cancer – has enrolled the first patients. First of its kind, the study QUARTET (Quality and Excellence in Radiotherapy and Imaging for Children and Adolescents with Cancer across Europe in Clinical Trials) has been set up and thanks to our collaboration with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and to the generous support of the Luxembourg foundation ‘Fondatioun Kriibskrank Kanner’. The importance of early collaboration to develop more effective paediatric cancer treatments was widely demonstrated last March, when two events – our International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day at the European Parliament and the ACCELERATE Multi-stakeholder Conference – proved that, by joining the forces of different stakeholders, we can find innovative approaches to increase the accessibility of high-quality medicines and speed up life-saving innovation in this field. This topic was also discussed at the recent meeting of the Clinical Research Council for Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology (SIOPE CRC) in Brussels. Bringing together clinical trial groups and national paediatric haemato-oncology societies, the CRC discussed how to improve the European drug development and research strategy. This strategy focuses on the specific characteristics of patients by disease and across diseases, taking into account the existing therapeutic strategies implemented by clinical trial groups. This structuration also inspired the new Paediatric Oncology Congress, which SIOPE is planning to organise and combine with the yearly meeting of most European clinical trial groups as from 2019. The idea of this unique event is to disseminate the outcomes of the high-quality clinical and basic research carried out in Europe, and to feature the main experts for each field. Its educational sessions will cover the key subjects for delivering high quality care in the field of paediatric haematology-oncology. After having reached thousands of oncology professionals for more than ten years by leading the European Cancer Congress’ Paediatric Track, and as a result of the successful SIOPE Society Day last 27th January in Amsterdam, we are confident that this new Congress will become an important appointment for all dedicated childhood cancer specialists who want to make sure that their patients can be cured and go on to live at their full potential.