SEATTLE - For women with breast cancer in low- and middle-resource countries and other medically underserved areas around the world, the need for supportive care and the consideration of quality-of-life issues are often overlooked. This week in Vienna, Austria, many of the world's leading experts in breast cancer, palliative care, hospice and patient advocacy will meet to address these often-neglected areas of patient care, which in developed countries are considered essential elements of a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer treatment from the time of diagnosis.
This global summit on international breast health is sponsored by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center-based Breast Global Health Initiative (BHGI), an alliance of international organizations.
The three-day meeting, Oct. 3-5, the "Global Summit on International Breast Health: Guidelines for International Breast Health and Cancer Control - Supportive Care and Quality of Life," will be convened in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy.(PACT).
"The BHGI has made unique contributions to breast cancer treatment around the world through its development of resource-stratified guidelines that have become a blueprint for policymakers in low- and middle-resource countries," said scientific co-chair of the summit Julie Gralow, M.D., a member of the Clinical Research Division at the Hutchinson Center and director of breast medical oncology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
"Cancer control is an attainable goal for these countries. The 2012 Summit will help make this goal a reality with new guidelines for acute treatment-related symptom control and supportive care, long-term survivorship care, and end of life/palliative care, including pain management," said Gralow, also a professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington and a member of the Harvard Global Task Force for Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries.
Rolando Camacho-Rodriguez, M.D., is the other scientific co-chair. Camacho-Rodriguez is cancer control coordinator and acting head of the PACT Programme Office in the IAEA's Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications.
"Supportive care and quality of life are an essential component of the knowledge and skills necessary for the practice of clinical and radiation oncologists," he said. "Research on these components - medical, rehabilitative, psychosocial, spiritual and nursing - has to follow the same strict scientific methodology as has been the norm in the basic cancer treatment disciplines. Only this will ensure the utilization of interventions supported by evidence."
The BHGI, globally recognized for leading the international breast cancer clinical improvement and best practices movement, is uniquely positioned to address this critical area of supportive care and quality of life for breast cancer patients in underserved regions of the world. In the last decade, the BHGI has produced model approaches for comprehensive, resource-stratified, evidence-based consensus guidelines to effectively detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer in low- and middle-resource countries. These guidelines were the outcomes of previous Global Summits on International Breast Health held in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010.
The current summit's agenda will focus on issues specific to survivorship and follow-up care, treatment-related supportive care and end-of-life and palliative care for women in low- and middle-income countries. The summit will open with overviews by representatives from the World Health Organization and the IAEA's Nuclear Medicine Section.
The summit also marks the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the BHGI, which is co-sponsored by the Hutchinson Center and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. Its chair and director is Benjamin O. Anderson, M.D., a breast surgeon who holds academic and clinical appointments at the Hutchinson Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and University of Washington.
For updates on the open-registration 2012 Global Summit, please visit www.bhgi.info.
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists - including three Nobel laureates - seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. The Hutchinson Center's pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, the Hutchinson Center houses the nation's first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women's Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Hutchinson Center scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit www.fhcrc.org or follow the Hutchinson Center on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Leslie Sullivan, managing director
Breast Health Global Initiative
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center