Harmonizing the same language in oncology, precisely speaking!


Published open access this month in the flagship journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), Annals of Oncology, The Precision Medicine Glossary is set to resolve certain ambiguity arising within the oncology community concerning terminology entering the cancer lexicon. This timely undertaking was driven by members of ESMO´s Translational Research and Personalised Medicine Working Group in order to develop and establish consensus for definitions describing a range of concepts set within the context of precision medicine.

To establish which terms were to be included within the glossary, the group first surveyed ESMO´s membership back in autumn 2016. Based on the intelligence gathered the group set about discussing and defining the short list in collaboration with renowned experts within the field. Upon consensus, the selected terms were then grouped across 5 main categories: mechanisms of decision, characteristics of molecular alterations, tumor characteristics, clinical trials & statistics, and new research tools.

Incorporating 43 terms, ESMO´s Precision Medicine Glossary also tackles the issue of which is best: ‘precision´ or ´personalised´? Upon careful review the group concluded that although technically interchangeable, `precision medicine´ is favored under the terms of the definition provided, and the paper goes on to describe the rationale and considerations that the group factored in for this assessment.

“The only way we can collectively strive to solve cancer sooner is to work together as tightly connected, multidisciplinary and translational teams. Transforming cancer discovery into real benefits for our patients more rapidly can and will only happen through the pooling of expertise from bench to bedside and back coupled with basic researchers and clinical investigators all using the same language. We hope that the Glossary will be well received by all and that it will constitute a useful tool to improve communication and further spur collaborative research of excellence,” observes Joan Seoane, Director of Translational Research at VHIO, co-author of ESMO´s Precision Medicine Glossary, and member of its Translational Research and Personalised Medicine Working Group.

ESMO´s Precision Medicine Glossary is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/annonc/advance-article/doi/10.1093/annonc/mdx707/4616649