[09/26/2000; Cable News Network]
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) -- Patient power has improved the
treatment and care of breast cancer patients and led to increased
funding to fight the killer disease, a leading expert said on
Dr. Martine Piccart, head of chemotherapy at the Institut Jules
Bordet in Brussels, told the Second European Breast Cancer Conference
that the involvement of patients in every aspect of their care
had also been a crucial factor in breast cancer research.
"Patient power has been a positive force for good in improving
clinical trial design, for example, as well as in encouraging
people to take part in clinical trials," she said at the start
of the five-day conference.
Just as AIDS patients politicized the disease and demanded and
received a greater input in how they were treated, women with
breast cancer have pushed for more funding and increased public
awareness of the disease that affects more than 210,600 women
in Europe each year.
Piccart, the chair of the Brussels conference, said surgeons,
chemotherapists, radiotherapists, nurses and psychologists were
working together to provide the most effective treatment for
"Gone for good are the days when the only effective treatment
was a radical mastectomy," she said.
"In some countries it (patient power) has resulted in increased
funding for cancer research, a crucial issue if we want tomorrow's
treatments to be better than (those) of today."
Although scientists are still a long way from having effective
treatments for every type of breast cancer, advances in medical
research and technology are leading to more customized treatments.
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