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2nd ESMO symposium on soft tissue carcinomas and GIST

Experts in treating a rare group of cancers that affect tissues such as muscle, fat, nerves and the gastrointestinal wall are meeting in Milan, Italy on 13-14 May to discuss the latest information on how these diseases develop and potential new avenues for therapy.

The 2nd Symposium on Sarcoma and GIST (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors) organized by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), will include sessions on the genetics of sarcomas, on understanding how drug resistance develops and possibilities for new treatment options.

There will be a particular focus on how scientists and clinicians can work together to develop new treatments, including molecular targeted therapies. The theme of the meeting is 'Insights at the crossroads of molecular biology, pathology and clinic.'

"Sarcomas are relatively rare, but they are serving as a model for the way new molecular targeted therapies are being introduced into clinical practice," said co-chair of the event Dr. Paolo G. Casali, Head of the Sarcoma Medical Treatment Unit at the Milan Istituto Nazionale Tumori and Chair of the ESMO Sarcoma Working Group. "This challenges our ability to combine information from as diverse areas as biology, pathology and the clinic to achieve better results for patients."

"The molecular and pathological bases represent extremely valuable diagnostic and prognostic information for the proper treatment of this disease, although the way we can exploit all these data in the clinic is still to be defined properly," said co-chair Dr. Paolo Dei Tos, Director of the Pathology Unit of the Regional Hospital of Treviso, Italy.

Sarcomas are cancers of the connective or supportive tissues, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, fat and blood vessels, therefore they can arise everywhere in the body, although they are rare. Sarcomas are also different to the much more frequent carcinomas of the breast, colon, lung, and others.

Around 50 different kinds of soft-tissue sarcomas have been identified, affecting around 4 new patients per 100,000 in the population each year. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors, a specific subtype of sarcoma that affects the wall of the stomach and intestine, affect 1.5 new patients per 100,000 people each year.

Among the top clinical and translational researchers who will speak at the symposium there are L. Baker, R. Benjamin, E. de Alava, P. Hogendoorn, G. Demetri, J. Fletcher, L. Helman, M. Ladanyi, R. Maki.

The highly qualified Symposium Faculty, made up of some of the most eminent experts in the field of sarcoma treatment and research, has also organized a two-day closed meeting before the event to discuss ideas for future research projects.

The ESMO Symposium on Sarcoma and GIST is supported by two pharmaceutical companies -- Novartis Oncology and PharmaMar -- and by Conticanet, a EU-funded project for clinical research on soft tissue sarcomas in Europe, whose coordinator, Dr. Jean-Yves Blay, is one program co-chair. The event has been organized also in cooperation with the Milan Istituto Nazionale Tumori, a referral institute for sarcomas and GIST.

"ESMO is dedicated to educating and supporting oncologists, also when it comes to the treatment of specific disease areas such as sarcoma," said Prof. Rolf A. Stahel, Chair of the ESMO Educational Committee.

In line with its commitment to educate and guarantee the best possible treatment to all cancer patients, later this year ESMO will be hosting an event dedicated to rare tumors in Brussels, 'Rare Tumors in Europe: Challenges and Solutions'.

"Sarcomas being rare cancers make this meeting a significant expression of ESMO's efforts on rare diseases," said Dr. Casali. Rare tumors are classified as such if considered individually, but represent collectively one-fourth of all cancer cases. "People with rare diseases have the same right to receive proper treatment as all other patients", he added, "which is why it is important that a pan-European organization like ESMO is active in this field."


Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
European Society for Medical Oncology

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