MEP calls for European strategy in the fight against breast cancer

03/15/04

Hamburg, Germany: The conditions necessary to lead to a 25% reduction in breast cancer mortality must be in place across Europe by 2008, an MEP said today (Tuesday 16 March) at the opening of the 4th European Breast Cancer Conference. Karin Jöns, the European Parliament's standing rapporteur for breast cancer, said that all European countries should introduce mammography screening for women aged 50-69 in accordance with the EU guidelines. They should also establish a multidisciplinary breast unit for every 330,000 inhabitants, as set out in the EUSOMA guidelines.

Karin Jöns said that the European Parliament and Commission will first take stock of the situation in 2006. "The then 25 Member States will have to show whether they have actually made progress in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer", she said.

According to the WHO, mammography screening following the EU guidelines can reduce breast cancer mortality by 25%. Every mammogram must be read independently by two radiologists, each of whom have to read the mammograms of a minimum of 5,000 women per year. Karin Jöns criticised the fact that only eight European countries currently offer nationwide mammography screening to women aged 50-69, and many of these are not in line with the EU guidelines.

According to the EUSOMA requirements, each breast centre must perform a minimum of 150 primary breast cancer operations per year and every surgeon must each perform at least 50 operations. Every patient's individual case has to be discussed before and after surgery in a multidisciplinary case conference.

Ms Jöns emphasised that 90% of breast cancer patients might be cured if diagnosed early and treated correctly. "There is an urgent need for breast centres where medical teams work on a multidisciplinary basis and specialise solely in treating diseases of the breast", she said.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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