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The EBC Council Manifesto on Breast Cancer Units 20/03/2017

The EBC Council would like to announce the publication of its “Manifesto on Breast Cancer Centres/Units”. This Manifesto calls policymakers and politicians to take action and ensure that all patients suffering from this type of cancer in Europe are treated in a specialist breast unit.

More specifically, this document invites all stakeholders in breast cancer to:

  • Promote, in public and professional settings, the evidence that breast units staffed with specialist multidisciplinary teams deliver higher quality care and ensure a better quality of life to patients with breast cancer;
  • Acknowledge the evidence that treatment in multidisciplinary units lead to overall cost savings as well as better care;
  • Audit the current national provision of breast cancer care using accredited auditors;
  • Implement mandatory reimbursement and care models that mean treatment can only be carried out in specialist breast units;
  • Introduce an accredited breast unit quality certification scheme.

Already in 2000, the European Society of Mastology (EUSOMA) published a position paper entitled ‘The requirements of a specialist breast unit’, which set out standards for establishing high-quality breast cancer centres, or units, across Europe. This paper was followed by numerous reports and guidelines, including many from ESSO. Built on this evidence in recommending specialist units as a priority for breast cancer, policymakers, advocates and breast cancer professionals made over the years repeated calls on EU member states to ensure for all patients to access interdisciplinary breast cancer units in accordance with these standards by 2016 (e.g. European Parliament resolutions of 2003 and 2006 and written declarations on breast cancer in the EU of 2010 and 2015).

The 2016 deadline however has been missed in most countries of the region, and this is why the Manifesto underlines the urgency of the need to establish certified breast units in all EU countries. «Apart from the imperative to care for all breast cancer patients in specialist units, according to our call to action, it is important that thorough European-wide research is carried out to quantify and qualify the exact provision of breast cancer services in each country so that better comparisons of health systems policy can be made, and more examples of best practice generated» the authors conclude.

The document was presented at the last European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC10) in March 2016, and has been recently published open access in the European Journal of Cancer (EJC). The manifesto will be further discussed on the occasion of the 11th European Breast Cancer Council (EBCC) conference, which will take place from 21-23 March 2018 in Barcelona, Spain (registrations will open on 31st March 2017, abstract submissions in September).

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