News in brief: ESMO 2021 regrets; COVID-19 vaccine advice; Palliative care faces crisis

Thursday, 11 Mar 2021

ESMO regrets 2021 will be virtual meeting

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) says its hopes to return to a face-to-face annual meeting in 2021 have been dashed by the continuing risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic

Instead of the planned meeting in Paris, ESMO says it has taken the reluctant decision to run another virtual conference from 17-21 September.

“We appreciate that after so many months of social distancing, our community has come to suffer from virtual meeting fatigue. We are all eager to resume in-person events that facilitate personal contact and networking. However, under the present conditions and in keeping with our collective responsibility to help contain the virus and protect cancer patients, oncology professionals as well as the health systems that support them, the ESMO Congress 2021 will have to proceed in a virtual format once more,” it said

However ESMO said it had taken heed of negative feedback over the 2020 virtual meeting and would provide an ‘enhanced’ meeting offering more interactivity, opportunities to engage and debate with investigators and opinion leaders, and possibilities to contribute to customising the content of sessions.

Cancer Australia publishes COVID-19 vaccine advice

Cancer Australia has released the first evidence-based information about the COVID-19 vaccines for people affected by cancer in Australia

The 25 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) address issues such as safety, efficacy, and potential risks; when and where cancer patients can receive a vaccine; and whether the vaccine may impact cancer treatment questions, said CEO Professor Dorothy Keefe.

However she emphasised that the decision about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine should be made on an individual basis by the person affected by cancer, in consultation with their healthcare team.

Palliative care workforce crisis

Australia is facing a crisis in end-of-life care with only half the number of palliative care doctors needed to provide good quality care for terminally ill patients and increasing demand from an ageing population, a new report says.

Healthcare benchmarks require a two full-time equivalent palliative care physicians per 100,000 people in the population but Australia currently has only 0.9, according to a publication released by The PM Glynn Institute study at the Australian Catholic University. It says terminally ill patients are unable to access palliative care in the community and the situation will worse unless Australia trains an additional 225 specialist palliative care doctors.

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