Looking for consensus on how to manage metastatic breast cancer

A new European School of Oncology (ESO) task force has been created to discuss and review the current guidelines for managing metastatic breast cancer. This is the first time an open debate has taken place with breast cancer experts and patients anywhere in Europe. The European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-5) will host the discussion.

Despite improvements in breast cancer treatment, patients with metastatic disease are still likely to die. There are a variety of European guidelines but no overall consensus on the best way to treat breast cancer patients with metastatic disease. An agreement is needed for the best interest of each patient and to help the doctors who treat them. The open forum will debate the need for guidelines and look at the complex issues surrounding recommendations. It will involve doctors from Europe and the United States, psychologists and patient advocates.

The ESO task force met in Italy earlier in the year and identified six key points in preparation for the discussion at EBCC-5. The recommendations encompass the management of the disease, patient involvement in clinical trials and his or her psychological welfare. It has been suggested that management of a patient's psychological wellbeing should be given the same importance as treatment of the disease.

Professor L Fallowfield, a member of the ESO task force, comments, "It is important to have an open and honest discussion about metastatic breast cancer. This is not about creating more rules and regulations, but about finding the best way to help doctors deliver optimal cancer care to their patients."

The final recommendations will be announced after the debate at the EBCC press conference on Friday 24th March.


Notes: Metastatic breast cancer is when the cancer has spread from the breast to another part of the body.

The European School of Oncology is an independent, non profit organisation dedicated to improving patient care and the oncological skills of health professionals. ESO was founded by Umberto Veronesi and Laudomia Del Drago in 1982 to try and reduce deaths from cancer due to late diagnosis and inadequate treatment. ESO believes that cancer is beatable, controllable and often preventable. The school works for a cancer-free world, or at least for a world in which cancer becomes a fully manageable social and medical problem. Dr.Costa is the Director of ESO. For more information about ESO and the important work it carries out please visit. www.cancerworld.org/cancerworld/home

For further information please contact:
Stéphanie Makin, Tonic Life Communications, [email protected]

EBCC5 press office: Tuesday 21st March – Friday 24th March 2006
Tel: +33 4 93 92 84 02
Fax: +33 4 93 92 84 04

March 2006, 5th European Breast Cancer Conference

1) The management of MBC is complex and therefore involvement of all appropriate specialities in a multi-disciplinary team (medical, radiation, surgical and imaging oncologists, palliative care, psycho-social

2) From first diagnosis of MBC, patients should be offered appropriate psychosocial, supportive and palliative interventions as a routine part of their care.

3) Following thorough assessment and confirmation of MBC, the potential treatment goals must be specified and discussed. Patients should be invited to participate in all decision-making.

4) A small but very important subset of MBC patients can achieve complete remission and a long survival. They should be identified.

5) Minimally staging workup for MBC includes a history and physical examination, complete haematology & biochemistry, imaging of chest, abdomen and bone.

6) Treatment choice should take account of: previous therapies, disease-free survival, hormonal receptor status, HER-2 status, tumour burden (defined as number and site of metastases), biological age, menopausal status, co-morbidities (including organ dysfunctions), performance status, need for a rapid disease/symptom control, and socio-economic and psychological factors. (This list is not exhaustive)

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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