European Breast Cancer Conference 6, Berlin,Germany. April 2008

European Breast Cancer Conference 6, Berlin,Germany. April 2008

The Sixth European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC 6) was held in Berlin, Germany in April, 2008. The European Breast Cancer Conference takes place every two years, and Miss Jane O’Brien has been fortunate enough to have attended EBCC conferences held in Brussels, Barcelona, Nice and now Berlin.

The conference encourages interaction and collaboration between clinicians, scientists and patients in a partnership of equals to talk not just about scientific advances, but also the ethical, social, political, and practical issues associated with caring for patients with breast cancer.

EBCC 6 attracted over 5000 delegates from around 90 countries worldwide. The conference covered the entire spectrum of breast cancer and highlighted what is new across fields as diverse as:

  • New tools for developing smarter breast cancer drugs
  • Effectiveness or cost-effectiveness as the criterion for new treatments?
  • Young women and fertility in breast cancer
  • New imaging techniques for tailoring therapy
  • Lifestyle and survival after treatment for breast cancer

Professor Roger Blamey from Nottingham (a reknown UK breast centre at which Jane O’Brien spent considerable time working as a specialist breast surgeon) presented the latest updated results from the BASO 11 trial which now has a median follow up of 122 months and a ten year breast cancer specific survival of 98.5%. This trial compared radiotherapy versus no radiotherapy and/or tamoxifen versus no tamoxifen following breast conservation surgery in patients with excellent prognosis tumours (less than 2cm, node negative, grade 1 or special type). Wide local excision alone resulted in a local recurrence rate of 1.7% per annum, +radiotherapy 0.5%, and +tamoxifen 0.5%. The combination of both adjuvant therapies (+radiotherapy and +tamoxifen) led to the lowest annual local recurrence rate of 0.1%.

A half day pre-conference seminar was devoted to the subject of “oncoplastic” breast surgery, a fast growing speciality area in Europe, occupying the common ground between surgical oncology and plastic and reconstructive breast surgery. Surgical techniques were described, aimed at resolving the conflict between the resection of as much volume as necessary to achieve clear margins and the wish to obtain a good cosmetic result. Partial reconstructive techniques using tissue displacement (rearrangement) or replacement to correct wide local excision defects were outlined, as were procedures to correct asymmetry to the contralateral breast.

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