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ECL CONTINUING CANCER CARE CONFERENCE 2011 (Day 2)
08 September, European Parliament, Brussels
Hosted by Liz Lynne MEP
With the support of MEPs Pavel Poc, Marisa Matias and Marian Harkin
Social Rights for Cancer Patients and
Psychosocial Screening and Tools – Rehabilitation – Palliative Care
“It is vital that medical oncologists and patients understand each other and are able to communicate openly. Communication skills for rehabiliation, psychosocial screening and palliative care should be included in the training curricula of all health professionals”
Pavel Poc MEP
The impact of cancer on people is not only physical, but emotional, social and spiritual as well. The majority of patients cope with the disease with the help of their doctor(s), nurses, family and friends. But approximately one third of cancer patients need professional psychological care. From daily practice and research we know that their needs are not always met in a proper way. Is psychosocial support on top of the agenda of the medical staff and other professionals in cancer care? And, what could be the advantage of psychosocial support guidelines. Since an open and ongoing communication between professionals and the patient is a condition for meeting patients needs the conference emphasizes the need for communication training for all professionals working in oncology.
“Almost 70% of cancer patients may have symptoms and late effects after treatment that may jeopardize their daily life, including their work.”
The second session will address rehabilitation and cancer. Due to an ageing population and successful treatment the number of Europeans living after cancer will increase the coming years. Almost 70% of cancer patients may have symptoms and late effects after treatment that may jeopardize their daily life, including their work. Only a small proportion of cancer patients in Europe are offered rehabilitation and screening of late effects as part of their cancer care package. At the moment, knowledge about cancer rehabilitation and treatment of late effects is limited in oncology; cancer patients are not yet systematically screened for rehabilitation needs and late effects. Especially with new treatments there is a risk of unknown late effects. More focus on patient’s needs for rehabilitation is necessary. Cancer rehabilitation should be part of cancer care. Patients should be screened for rehabilitation needs during treatment as well as on a regular basis during their control period. All cancer patients in need of rehabilitation get a personal survivorship care plan including rehabilitation and surveillance of late effects when they are discharged from hospital. Since rehabilitation programs for cancer patients are not well defined nor based on (sufficient) evidence substantial research funding in the EU should be directed towards research on cancer rehabilitation to ensure the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs.
Although cure rates have increased in the past decades, roughly 50 % of all cancer patients will not survive their illness. These patients will be offered palliative treatment in order to slow down the progression of their disease and to reduce the impact of their cancer on their well-being. Palliative treatment for cancer patients means more than end of life care and may be stretched over many years. End of life care itself is also more than just pain management; it includes addressing the psychological and spiritual needs of the patient.
“In order to improve the accessibility and quality of palliative care, having a choice over where a patient wants to die, pain control management and end of life care should be specifically included in National Cancer Control Plans”
Due to misconceptions of professionals as well as patients and legal bottlenecks, a substantial number of patients in Europe are deprived of adequate pain management. A lot of cancer patients are not able to die in the place they want. In order to improve the accessibility and quality of palliative care this type of care including end of life care should be specifically included in National Cancer Control Plans.
At 3.30pm, MEPs, conference participants and representatives from the European Commission are invited to sign the conference resolutions committing them themselves to the following actions:
And, the 2011 Declaration of Support for Cancer Patients:
In order to protect the rights of cancer patients at work and to ensure equal access to financial services for cancer patients, we, the undersigned,
“ Call for, at the minimum, a definition of disability as set out by the UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, to be implemented in all member states and applied to all existing and proposed EU anti-discrimination legislation”
The Patient Support Working Group has been an active part of the Association of European Cancer Leagues since 2007. Each of our members work directly with cancer patients in countries across Europe and contribute to the group whose aim is to share information and to lobby at the European level for equal rights, fair treatment and better health services for cancer patients. The key organizers of the Continuing Cancer Care Conference 2011 are (click on their names for contact details, or contact us here):