Breast units are effective, and must become the standard: the EBC Manifesto

Breast units staffed with specialist multidisciplinary teams deliver superior care and quality of life to women and men with breast cancer: this is the premise of the Manifesto on Breast Cancer Centres/Units that was discussed in 2016 at the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam, and was recently published on the European Journal of Cancer.

Based on this premise, policymakers and politicians are asked to ensure, as soon as possible, «that all women and men with breast cancer in Europe are treated in a specialist breast unit».

The manifesto invites all stakeholders (including healthcare professionals and patient advocates) to promote the evidence on the efficacy and effectiveness of breast units; audit the current national provision of breast cancer care using accredited auditors; implement mandatory reimbursement and care models that mean treatment can only be carried out in specialist breast units; and introduce an accredited breast unit quality certification scheme.

«We hope this manifesto and supporting evidence will encourage policymakers, health professionals and advocates to investigate their own national and local provision of specialist breast units and the tools and criteria currently in use for developing consistent, high-quality breast cancer care» writes the group of authors, that was led by Fatima Cardoso of the Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon, Portugal, and included CancerWorld editor Alberto Costa.
«Apart from the imperative to care for all breast cancer patients in specialist units, according to our call to action, it is important that thorough European-wide research is carried out to quantify and qualify the exact provision of breast cancer services in each country so that better comparisons of health systems policy can be made, and more examples of best practice generated» the authors conclude.

The manifesto is publicly available in Open Access thanks to a grant from the European Breast Cancer Council, whose 11th EBCC conference will take place in Barcelona from 21-23 March 2018 (registrations will open at the end of March 2017, abstract submissions in September).

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