At a meeting of the European Commission today representatives from all EU Member States met in Brussels to consider the status of medical oncology as a recognized specialty under EU law.
“Such recognition is an essential step in providing optimal treatment to the millions of Europeans who have cancer or who develop cancer every year,” says Dr. Jose Baselga, ESMO President-Elect. It would enable the free movement of medical oncologists within EU Member States, with their professional qualifications being automatically recognized.
“A determining factor for optimal cancer treatment and research is the level of training, knowledge and skills of oncology professionals,” says Dr. Baselga.
Medical oncologists are doctors who specialize in taking care of cancer patients. They have training in internal medicine, and subsequent specialization in the comprehensive management of patients with malignancies.
Medical oncologists are trained in the scientific basis of cancer treatment, prevention, screening, and diagnosis. Hospitals in every European country, and around the world, employ medical oncologists to help treat their patients.
“Medical oncology is recognized as a specialty in most of the EU Member States, the United States and many other countries around the world,” says Dr. Adamos Adamou, co-chair of the European Members of Parliament Against Cancer (MAC). “We believe it is time the EU joined them.”
Working in multidisciplinary teams with surgeons and radiation oncologists, medical oncologists are responsible for the systemic treatment of cancer patients with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, immune and targeted therapies, as well as supportive care. Medical oncologists also engage in clinical cancer research in the form of clinical trials.
Currently, however, the specialty of medical oncology is not formally recognized by the European Union. Discussions within the EU have been ongoing for some time in a continuing and concerted effort on the part of medical professionals from across the continent to achieve that recognition.
“We urge patients and politicians to voice their support for the recognition of medical oncology as a specialty, and to agree on minimum training periods,” says Pascale Blaes, Director of the ESMO Brussels office.
“Oncologists and cancer patients across the EU will be watching the outcome closely, because of the growing urgency to keep cancer as a high priority on the EU healthcare agenda,” Pascale Blaes says.
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