Care of cancer survivors

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Published: 1 Nov 2010
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Prof Wim van Harten - Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Due to the improvements in cancer treatment, more and more people are surviving therapy. Prof Wim van Harten speaks about the importance of dealing with the symptoms and problems experienced after treatment and talks about the upcoming OECI meeting which will address this issue. Prof van Harten discusses what other problems he will be concentrating on in his role as president of OECI and speaks about the benefits of cancer centre accreditation.

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ESMO 2010


Professor Wim van Harten – Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands


Care of cancer survivors


Wim van Harten, Netherlands Cancer Institute, where I spent ten very happy years in the ‘80s, welcome to and thank you very much for helping to make the OECI link with happen. You’re going to be the next president and just ahead of that we’re organising meetings in Amsterdam. There are a couple that you’re involved in and I think you’re heading up the lead in the survivorship meeting and that’s in November. Tell us why you’re doing that.


Well it is obvious that more people are surviving after cancer treatment and as a consequence of the success of the treatment it is important that survivors are being taken care of properly. We realise that symptoms and problems after treatment are becoming more important and they have to be tackled. So in a way this is as a result of our own success that we have to service these people too.


It’s nice to have that problem, of course. So who is going to be at this, is it for patients, by patients or for survivors, by survivors?


No, this is firstly to obtain an overview of activities in Europe especially. There will also be two well-known speakers from the US, Patricia Ganz and Melinda Edwin.


Yes, I know Patricia.


And for various European countries like Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands of course, to have firstly an overview of developments everywhere; we will see what kind of co-operations will follow after that.


And being a national cancer institute in the Netherlands and many of the OECI members are the same, you have a leadership role as an institute to lead this sort of activity.


Yes, I think so.


Do you see that happening with the support of the other OECI institutes or are you doing this because you’re just further down the line and you’re more organised?


Well we are somewhat advanced in this field, both in research and in practical services, organising services which is not very easy, especially when budget cuts are going on everywhere. But it is an important issue and, of course, we hope to stimulate co-operation and exchange ideas in this way. To come back to the OECI role, especially survivorship care has not to do just with one profession but it is also a multi-disciplinary field in which especially the Institution has an important role to play.


And is this going to be something which is going to be fairly up in the front of your presidency when you take over shortly?


Well this is one of the issues - strengthening the position of and the knowledge on how to organise cancer centres, because there’s a shift from professionalism towards institutional co-operation in the field of cancer care. This is a very important development which I would like to foster and stimulate.


It’s a nice balance because your institute has also been one of the leaders in the EuroCAM platform, European Commission FP7 project, which we hope will start on 1st January 2011. That’s of course more high-tech and there will be platforms across the industry and indeed there’s an OECI meeting in Amsterdam on molecular pathology, which presumably will be also linking up some of these institutes.


In March next year. Well especially my colleague, Tom Burns, is very active in the EuroCAM platform but myself, I am involved in a follow-up next stage in accreditation, the accreditation or designation of excellent cancer centres, which is the next stage in trying to build up the system of comprehensive cancer care in Europe in a bottom up way because that’s the only way we can do it.


And it’s a very Dutch way of doing things and it’s always worked for Holland. And you do everything better, as I well know now.


Well, we have to show it but we have a good chance, I think.


Wim, thanks very much indeed and we’ll look forward to seeing you in November in Amsterdam.


Thank you very much.