10th Pan European Conference 2011 Press Release

Post-conference press release
25 October 2011

EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR HEALTH EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR SPECIALIST BREAST UNIT IMPLEMENTATION AND ACCREDITATION AT THE 10TH EUROPA DONNA PAN-EUROPEAN CONFERENCE IN MALTA

THE 10th EUROPA DONNA PAN-EUROPEAN CONFERENCE “CHALLENGES FOR THE NEW DECADE” UNITES ADVOCATES IN THE FIGHT FOR EQUAL ACCESS TO OPTIMUM BREAST CANCER CARE ACROSS

At least 250 breast cancer advocates and specialists gathered at EUROPA DONNA – The European Breast Cancer Coalition’ 10th Pan-European Conference in Malta on 22 and 23 October, where they heard the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, express the Commission’s commitment to breast cancer prevention, detection and treatment. This was part of a wide conference agenda dedicated to the theme “Challenges for the New Decade”.

In the keynote address, Commissioner Dalli said the Commission’s dedication to breast cancer is demonstrated through the publication of theEuropean Guidelines for Quality Asssurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis, the Commission’s commitment to producing future supplements to these guidelines, and through working toward the creation of a European specialist breast unit accreditation scheme. “The accreditation scheme should provide an effective tool to member states to improve the quality of their health services and to trigger the certification of breast units by a number of certification organisations accredited by a common European scheme,” he said. “Such a scheme would enable women to know what breast units meet European quality standards and help be sure of access to equal quality of services to citizens of the European Union.” He further congratulated EUROPA DONNA on creating its “very useful and user-friendly” Short Guide to the European Guidelines.

“EUROPA DONNA has been actively collaborating with the Commission and the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) to establish a specialist breast unit accreditation scheme through the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and in keeping with the EU guidelines. We were delighted to have Commissioner Dalli as a speaker at our conference and hear of the Commission’s dedication to this project,” said Susan Knox, Executive Director of EUROPA DONNA.
n his talk, Dr. Robin Wilson, President of EUSOMA, also discussed the implementation of specialist breast units across Europe and the accreditation scheme. He said that in order for an accreditation scheme to be established, the 4th edition of the European guidelines, published in 2006, would first require updating. He expressed the urgency of advancing this process if specialist breast units are to be set up across the EU before the 2016 deadline stipulated in the European Parliament Resolutions on Breast Cancer of 2003 and 2006.

In a presentation on the specialist breast nursing curriculum, Dr. Manuela Eicher from the University of Applied Science of Western Switzerland said that it is time that health systems recognised breast cancer as a chronic disease and the role that breast nurses can play in the care of women with this disease. Given the inequalities in training of and access to breast nurses across Europe, Dr. Eicher outlined the European Oncology Nursing Society’s Post-Basic Curriculum for Breast Cancer Nursing. It has three main aims: raising the awareness of the need for specially trained nurses in breast cancer care, defining minimum standards for such nurses and for their post basic education and training. She emphasised that breast nurses should be involved as an equal member of the multidisciplinary team.

In a session on advances in breast cancer treatment, Dr. Philip Poortmans, a radiation oncologist from Institute Verbeeten in the Netherlands, gave a very visual presentation on the use of imaging modalities in diagnosis, in therapy monitoring and for radiation therapy. Presenting the oncologist’s view, Dr.Olivia Pagani, from the Institute of Oncology of Southern Switzerland, outlined the latest findings for treatment schedules and sequences for breast cancer prevention, and for the various types of breast cancer, from premenopausal to HER2-positive and metastatic disease.

A full conference session was dedicated to metastatic breast cancer, one of the Coalition’s priority areas. Doris Fenech, a breast nurse and the National Representative of EUROPA DONNA Malta, shared her personal experience with metastatic breast cancer and the needs of women and their families. Karen Benn, EUROPA DONNA’s Policy Officer, then presented the results of the Coalition’s Survey on Metastatic Breast Cancer. Among other issues, it pointed to the need to include metastatic breast cancer in national guidelines on breast cancer treatment and in the European guidelines.

In the capacity building session, Dr. Galina Maistruk, a gynaecologist and founder of the NGO Women’s Health Family Planning in Kiev, Ukraine, and former EUROPA DONNA Executive Board member, gave an inspiring talk on starting up a EUROPA DONNA Forum and methods for fund-raising. This was further discussed in one of the five workshops held for advocates to share ideas and strategies. Other workshops covered the topics of getting involved in social networking and blogs, attracting media attention, needs of women over 70 and setting up young women’s groups.

The conference ended with an overview of EUROPA DONNA’s successful Breast Health Day campaign, held on 15 October, the Coalition’s involvement in European policy endeavours, and presentations on the activities of the Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Swedish Fora of EUROPA DONNA.“The EUROPA DONNA Pan-European Conference is unique in that it is the only conference dedicated primarily to breast cancer advocates and survivors. Every two years one of our member countries is selected to host the conference and we congratulate our Malta Forum for their work, their team of enthusiastic volunteers and their contribution to the social programme,” Susan Knox said.