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Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
EU-wide breast cancer policy 'needed'
Cancer research
Professor Veronesi wants more coordinated research
Europe is lagging behind the US in tackling breast cancer because of a piecemeal approach to the disease in individual countries.

Professor Umberto Veronesi, a breast cancer surgeon and Italy's Minister for Health, added that a Europe-wide breast cancer programme to tackle the problem.

Speaking at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels, Professor Veronesi said many countries were also overlapping one another and were not getting the most out of their attempts to beat the disease.

He said European countries should come together and draw up a co-ordinated plan for fighting breast cancer.


I propose that we develop a European breast cancer programme

Professor Umberto Veronesi, Italian Health Minister

He said Europe needed to make research and high standard national screening programmes a priority.

"We need more research. In particular, we need to start identifying and supporting centres of excellence.

"That means centres which see more than 1,000 patients a year or have developed outstanding research reputations."

He also called for harmonisation of treatment standards across the European Union and a greater emphasis on the training given to health professionals involved in treating breast cancer patients.

"Free mobility is one of the pillars of the EU and citizens should claim a minimum basis of treatment which should be available wherever they are in Europe," he said.

Professor Veronesi said an EU-wide approach would make this possible.

"I propose that we develop a European breast cancer programme. As a catalyst for this there should be a meeting of all major European cancer charities to explore the possibility of a co-ordinated effort."

Advances

Professor Veronesi said recent advances in medical technology and knowledge demonstrated the need for co-operation.

"The revolution in the laboratory that has come from our new understanding of genetics, the advances in surgical techniques and radiotherapy and the dawning era of designer drugs presents us with daily challenges and opportunities to improve the survival and quality of life for the thousands of women in Europe who are affected every year by breast cancer.

"We can only meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities if we pool our knowledge and expertise and act together," he said.

Dr John Toy, medical director of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in the UK, said it shared the findings of its studies with others abroad.

"Our first priority of course must be to ensure that all women across Europe have the very best outcomes from breast cancer.

"Beyond that organisations across Europe are striving towards achieving the best standard in the world for breast cancer treatment.

"To that end Imperial Cancer Research Fund is making the strongest possible effort to improve outcomes for women in the UK and shares willingly its expertise and results with all other researchers from Europe and across the world."

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See also:

29 Sep 00 | Health
'No benefit' to cancer test move
29 Sep 00 | Health
Breast Cancer 2000
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