Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Advocacy for Best Practice in Early Diagnosis and Treatment

EUROPA DONNA has been working to ensure that women in Europe have access to accurate up-to-date information, quality mammography screening, optimal treatment and follow up for breast cancer. Advocating for population-based mammography screening programs and for specialist breast units has been among our key priorities since 2000. To further these goals, we have worked directly with Members of the European Parliament on the drafting and passage of the 2003 and 2006 European Parliament resolutions on breast cancer as well as the 2010 and 2015 European Parliament written declarations on the fight against breast cancer in the EU.

European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer- ECIBC

In 2012, the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC) was launched. The ECIBC is a European Commission initiative to develop evidence-based recommendations and a quality assurance scheme for the entire pathway of breast cancer care, including screening, diagnosis and treatment through to end-of-life care. The European Commission Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), which is responsible for European Union (EU) policies that improve and protect public health, has given the task of coordinating the scientific and technical aspects of the ECIBC to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre based in Ispra, Italy. The ECIBC has convened two expert groups, the Guidelines Development Group (GDG) and the Quality Assurance Scheme Development Group (QASDG) that meet regularly to steer content, assess evidence and vote on recommendations. Both groups are composed of breast cancer experts, including patient advocates. EUROPA DONNA is a stakeholder in the ECIBC initiative.

ECIBC at a Glance Booklet

European Breast Guidelines

The Guidelines Development Group (GDG) is developing evidence-based European guidelines for breast cancer screening and diagnosis (also known as the European Breast Guidelines). These guidelines will include up to a maximum of 90 evidence-based recommendations regarding screening and diagnosis, based on women at “average risk” or “low risk” of breast cancer. The guidelines are being published on the web hub dedicated to this purpose as they become available. Supplemental recommendations will be developed and updated as new evidence and priorities emerge. On the web hub, each recommendation includes a section tailored to the needs of citizens and patients, health professionals, and policy makers.

Mammography is widely accepted as the best method to detect breast cancer early, before it becomes palpable. When carried out according to EU Guidelines it is the best form of early detection available today and the scientific evidence shows that it improves mortality rates from the disease. If you are between the ages of 50 and 69, you should receive an invitation for mammography screening every two years as part of a screening programme offered by your public health system. This has been re-confirmed in the new European Breast Guidelines.

Resources on Mammography Screening are available at:

Guideline Platform and European Quality Assurance Scheme

In addition to the European Breast Guidelines, the ECIBC is developing a Guidelines Platform, for those processes not covered by the European Breast Guidelines, by searching and evaluating 280 guidelines published worldwide. They are also designing and implementing a European Quality Assurance Scheme (QA Scheme) that will guarantee that breast cancer services offer women the most up-to-date procedures for breast cancer screening and care. The requirements and indicators in the QA scheme will cover the entire continuum of care, from treatment to survivorship and palliative care. This task is performed by the Quality Assurance Scheme Development Group (QASDG).

To help advocates in our 47 member countries understand the work that is being carried out by the ECIBC, EUROPA DONNA has published a EUROPA DONNA Advocates Guide to the ECIBC- European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer. This is the first booklet in a series to help advocates understand the new European Breast Guidelines which are web based.

The 4th Edition – European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

The 4th Edition of the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis was published by the European Commission in 2006. These guidelines defined recommendations for high-quality mammography screening, diagnosis and the setting up of specialist breast units. In order to advocate for the implementation of these guidelines, in October 2007, EUROPA DONNA published the Short Guide to the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis. The Short Guides have been translated into 17 languages and were a useful tool in gaining implementation of the guidelines in our member countries.

Treatment Consensus Guidelines and Recommendations from the Main European Breast Cancer Conferences and Organisations

Of great importance to women diagnosed with breast cancer, is to know that their treatment reflects the most up to date consensus guidelines from key experts in the breast cancer field.  There are several major consensus conferences held in Europe every year where experts from all continents gather and discuss whether new diagnostic or therapeutic means should be implemented in routine everyday practice.

St Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer

The St Gallen Oncology Conference is a private charity foundation that has held biennial international conferences on primary therapy of early breast cancer since 1978. The conference brings together international breast cancer experts to produce consensus recommendations on breast cancer treatment for the following two years. This consensus document tends to have an international impact on the treatment of early breast cancer.

The St. Gallen Consensus Conference on early breast cancer treatment now takes place in Vienna, Austria, every two years.

Consensus Documents:

European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC)

EUROPA DONNA hosts this biennial conference in partnership with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA). EBCC is unique in bringing together patient advocates and major breast cancer institutions in one arena. It is the largest breast cancer conference outside the United States, bringing together clinicians, scientists, patient representatives and health professionals of diverse profiles to tackle key issues facing patients throughout the continuum of the breast cancer journey. The EBCC conferences provide in-depth coverage and discussion of areas key to treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy and pharmacological treatment. EUROPA DONNA sessions provide the patient’s perspective on issues of interest today.

EUROPA DONNA publishes highlights from the EBCC conference in its newsletter in the year it takes place. See ED Publications. EUROPA DONNA also contributes in the writing of the Manifesto that emanates from each conference. See Europa Donna Articles.

Advanced Breast Cancer International Consensus Conference

The primary goal of The International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer (ABC) is the development of international consensus guidelines for the management of ABC patients. These guidelines are based on the most up-to-date evidence and can be used to guide treatment decision making in many different health care settings globally, with the necessary adaptations due to different access to care. The ABC guidelines are jointly developed by ESO (European School of Oncology) and ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology). EUROPA DONNA members serve on the consensus panel as well as the Breast Cancer Patient Advocacy Committee. The conference is held every two years.

The Advanced Breast Cancer 5th ESO-ESMO Consensus Conference (ABC 5) took take place in Lisbon, Portugal on 14-16 November 2019.

To see presentations from the conference click here.


Consensus Documents:

European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA)

The European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) is a non-profit organisation that promotes the multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Its members are specialists from across the spectrum of professions involved in breast care. EUSOMA is committed to promoting interaction between all the health professionals involved in breast cancer care with the aim of ensuring that all patients with breast problems have equitable access to high quality care delivered by specialist breast teams. EUSOMA is directly involved in setting evidence based standards that form the basis for certification and accreditation of breast centres and the clinical care they provide.

The EUSOMA guidelines “The requirements of a specialist centre” are recognized as the current reference document on the definition of breast centres and form the basis for Breast Centre certification.

EUSOMA Guidelines