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Variability in breast cancer surgery training across Europe: An ESSO-EUSOMA survey 25/03/2019

At present there is a lack of standardization of training in breast cancer surgery across Europe. The aim of this survey was to assess current practice in Europe regarding training in breast cancer (BC) surgery. General surgeons, surgical oncologists, gynecologist, and plastic surgeons in Europe were invited to participate in this bespoke survey including 19 questions.

The survey was sent to 3.000 surgical oncologists across Europe. A total of 671 physicians (387 general surgeons, 152 gynecologists, 126 surgical oncologists, 31 plastic surgeons) answered the survey (23% response rate). Four hundred and sixty-eight physicians devoted between 50% −100% of their job to treating breast cancer. 45% worked in a community/University hospital within a dedicated Breast Unit.

Specific additional breast surgery training was not universal: 20% had undertaken an accredited breast fellowship, 30% in a Breast Unit as a trainee, 21% had done additional courses, masters or diploma and 8% had not done any additional training. The majority (61%) of respondents worked in Units treating >150 BC cases per year, while 26% of the responders treat >120 new primary cases per year, and 23% less than 50 new cases a year. Multivariate analysis showed that breast surgeons working in a Breast Unit and treating more than 50 cases/year significantly performed oncoplastic procedures.

While almost 5% of Dutch patients treated with primary surgery transfer hospital after diagnosis and up to 25% for patients treated with NAC, our findings suggest that especially those treated with primary surgery are at risk for additional treatment delay by hospital transfer.

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