Participants from over 120 countries convened in Geneva or connected remotely for three days filled with topical sessions, rapid-fire presentations of scientific abstracts and research studies, and lively debates on key challenges affecting the full range of cancer control. The Congress also featured workshops and other learning opportunities, movie screenings, a spotlight stage, exhibitors’ hall and private discussions as well as social events.
In Geneva, the enthusiasm to meet again was palpable, and there were significant exchanges on the digital platform, showing how connected the cancer community has remained through these challenging times.
Session topics ranged widely from promising advances in cancer care and how these can benefit low-resource settings, effective measures to reduce tobacco consumption – including a presentation on the “generational endgame” (banning individuals born in 2009 and after from ever buying tobacco products) by the Associate Minister of Health of New Zealand, Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall – and in-depth looks at the many issues affecting prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and support care in all income settings.
The World Cancer Congress highlighted in particular the rise of non-communicable diseases, over a third of which are preventable by acting on modifiable risk behaviours, and the socio-economic burden of cancer – the heavy emotional, psychological and financial toll it places on individuals, their families and communities.
And, of course, patient voices featured prominently the World Cancer Congress, with cancer survivors and men and women who had lost a loved one to cancer – a parent, a child – sharing their experience and drawing on that experience to improve the quality of life and chances of survival and current and future patients.
For many, it is this interaction between doctors, researchers, civil society representations, NGOs and those who have been personally affected by cancer that unites the cancer community in the common goal of reducing the burden of cancer for everyone, everywhere.
Some key announcements were made, including the Reimagining Cancer Research in Europe Initiative with the seed funding of €2 million from the Dutch Cancer Society and additional funding pledged by the Swedish Cancer Society. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), is also collaborating.
Medicines Patent Pool and Novartis, two partners in the ATOM Coalition, also announced the first ever voluntary license agreement for a cancer medicine for chronic myeloid leukemia.
The UICC Awards for Best CEO and Best World Cancer Day Campaign were given to the recipients by UICC’s Past President, HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan. Awards were given to Zihao Zou for Best Scientific Abstract (The Prognostic Value of PIK3CA Mutations in Neoadjuvant Anti-HER2 Therapy of Breast Cancer: A Meta-Analysis), Kate Broun of Cancer Council Victoria in Australia for Best Advocacy and Policy Report (Evaluation of a state-wide campaign to increase cervical screening participation among young people), and Elina Viitaniemi of the English Speaking Cancer Association (ESCA) for Best Fundraising Report (Steps for CancerSupport: Fundraising and awareness building in a hybrid environment).
Recordings of all sessions are available on demand for registered participants by logging in to their Congress online account. The platform will remain open until end of 2022, so that everyone can stay in touch and access sessions they were unable to attend, either because they were busy elsewhere on site or were connecting to the Congress remotely.
A huge thank you to all World Cancer Congress sponsors for helping to make the event a reality!