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Dr. A. Clarysse took the initiative to create The Belgian Society of Medical Oncology in November 1976. After having spent 11 years in Canada, the United States and France, he returned to Belgium in 1974 as Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He was already a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.Impressed by the rudimentary state of Medical Oncology, except for two academic departments, he decided to assemble the rare medical oncologists in this country into a society. Fourteen collegues were found and 10 attended a first meeting held in de “Voogdenkamer” of the old St-Janshospital in Bruges on February 12 th, 1977. In an introductory speech, Dr. Clarysse defended the need for and the aims of the new society. All participants were convinced and a second meeting was held in Bruges on March 26th, 1977. The basis was laid for the statutes and a Board was elected.
The initial goals of the BSMO were published in Bruxelles Médical (September 1978).
The first statutes of the BSMO were published in the Moniteur on the 6th of September 1979 (only a french version).
One of the most urgent goals of the society was to obtain recognition of Medical Oncology as a new specialty of internal medicine, requiring special training and certification. Prof. H. Tagnon of the Institute Bordet gave his full support and was made Honorary President. With the early death of Prof. J.C. Heuson, we lost another staunch supporter.
Opposition to the creation of a new specialty came from different angles and were successful over the years in preventing the establishment of Medical Oncology as an independent specialty.
Over many years the number of members grew only slowly. Only in the mid-90’s did the accrual rate of new members accelerate. The BSMO presidents and board members, Prof. A. Van Oosterom, Prof. S. Van Belle, Prof. H. Bleiberg, Dr. L. Dirix and Prof. J. De Grève spent many hours lobbying in ministries for our cause. It lasted until 2006 before Medical Oncology was recognized as specialty.
The BSMO was finally registered as an ASBL/VZW on 29th April 2011 and has currently 236 members.