Cancer patients in Europe unite with doctors

10/18/04

3rd ESMO Patient Seminar

Cancer patients and their doctors need to form an alliance to constantly improve the quality of cancer care on an individual, national and European level, speakers will say on 30-31 October 2004 at the European Society for Medical Oncology's (ESMO) Patient Seminar in Vienna, Austria.

"Patients need to make themselves heard on an international level," says Heinz Ludwig, Chairman of the ESMO Patient Seminar Working Group. "There are 10 million cancer patients in Europe, each with family, friends and colleagues. Those millions of people are a great force for making cancer care as good as it possibly can be. Working together, we can make things better."

ESMO is committed to helping all cancer patients get the best possible care. The Patient Seminar, held in conjunction with the ESMO scientific conference, aims to connect patients and physicians, to provide information on new developments in the field of cancer and cancer therapy, and offer information and empowerment to help cancer patients cope with the variety of challenges they face.

"The Patient Seminar is breaking new ground by genuinely involving patients," said Lynn Faulds Wood, Chairperson of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), a colorectal cancer survivor.

"Many times patient involvement is only spoken about rather than acted upon, but ESMO is doing something concrete, and patients are really involved in both planning and attending. Some patient groups, including ECPC, use the slogan 'Nothing about us without us'. I think all patients should use this slogan," Ms. Faulds Wood said.

For Stella Kyriakides, President of European Breast Cancer Coalition EUROPA DONNA, personal issues have already become political. "Cancer is a life-changing event for every individual and it is through this personal experience with breast cancer that I came to the realization there is a political perspective to all this. In order to bring about change in the battle against cancer, we need to use our personal experience in a political way - through building partnerships with the scientific and clinical world, through the joining of voices and lobbying, both at national and European levels to ensure optimal management, and, ultimately, the eradication of this disease."

Karin Jöns, a member of the European Parliament from Germany will also give a keynote speech at the Patient Seminar on the European perspective of quality cancer care.

"There are few fields in clinical medicine that are expanding as rapidly as oncology, and better cooperation is vital ? not only for patients, but for physicians, too", says Paris A. Kosmidis, ESMO President. "By strengthening the relationship between patients and physicians, we will come to understand and communicate with each other more easily and more effectively," he says.

In connection with its Patient Seminar, ESMO is also jointly sponsoring the Images of Hope© Award, a photography contest open to all cancer patients and their families and caregivers. The award is designed to provide inspiration and encouragement to those afflicted with the disease, as cancer patients continue in their 'uphill climb'.

Sean Swarner, the first cancer survivor to literally attempt the 'uphill climb' and reach the summit of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest, addresses the Patient Seminar on the cancer patient's journey. "The patient seminar is a really fantastic idea, and I'm proud to be involved with it," Sean said. "I really wish something like this had been around in the early days for me."

Press Conference 1 on Saturday, 30 October 2004, 12:45-13:45, Austria Center Vienna, Austria

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