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International breast health global summit will focus on supportive care and quality of life

SEATTLE Supportive care and quality-of-life issues should be considered essential elements of a multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer treatment at the point of breast cancer diagnosis. However, for women suffering from breast cancer in low- and middle-resource countries and other medically underserved areas around the world, this fundamental area of patient care generally is neglected and misunderstood.

To address these issues, many of the world's leading breast cancer experts will convene Oct. 3-5 in Vienna, Austria at a global summit on international breast health sponsored by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center-based Breast Global Health Initiative (BHGI). The "Global Summit on International Breast Health: Guidelines for International Breast Health and Cancer Control Supportive Care and Quality of Life," will be convened by the BHGI alliance of organizations in cooperation with the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy.

Held for the first time under the auspices of the UN and endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, this pivotal summit will mark 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. The summit is an open-registration event, encouraging participation worldwide and across all disciplines. For updates on the 2012 summit program, registration and hotel information, abstract submission and corporate partnership, visit

The summit will bring together leading clinical and social science experts, researchers, policymakers, rehabilitation specialists, educators and representatives of international agencies, civil societies and the private sector. The summit will address this often ignored area of patient care by applying a mix of quantitative and qualitative research to help determine what helps people live better with cancer and its treatments.

Julie Gralow, M.D., and Eduardo Rosenblatt, M.D., are scientific co-chairs of the program. Gralow is a member of the Clinical Research Division at the Hutchinson Center, director of breast medical oncology at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, a professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and member of the Harvard Global Task Force for Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries. Rosenblatt is a highly distinguished radiation oncologist at the IAEA's Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT) and head of the applied radiation biology and radiotherapy section in the Division of Human Health and Nuclear Sciences and Applications in Vienna.

"Supportive care and quality of life have gradually become an essential component of the knowledge and skills necessary for the practice of clinical and radiation oncologists," Rosenblatt 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."

Globally recognized for leading the international breast cancer clinical improvement and best practices movement, the BHGI is uniquely positioned to address this critical area of supportive care and quality of life for breast cancer patients in underserved world regions. Over 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 LMCs. These guidelines have been developed as the tangible outcomes of previous Global Summits on International Breast Health held in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2010.

"The BHGI has offered 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," Gralow said. "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."


Contact: Dean Forbes
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

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