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There is a growing demand for academic education for oncologists to increase their clinical competence in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women and accounts for the largest number of cancer-related deaths in women in developed countries.

The expected demographic changes in the next two decades mean that even if current global cancer rates remain unchanged, the estimated incidence of 12.7 million new cancer cases in 2008 will rise to 21.4 million by 2030, with nearly two thirds of all cancer diagnoses occurring in low- and middle-income countries(1). Breast cancer is expected to be the most common cancer in Europe in 2012 (464.000 new cases), and the third cause of death (131,000), as estimated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)(2).

The 2010 Written Declaration on the Fight against Breast Cancer in the European Union(3), the 2006 European Parliament Resolution on Breast Cancer in the Enlarged European Union, and the first Resolution of 2003, call for every woman across Europe to have access to equal, high-quality breast cancer care. The aim is to reduce mortality from breast cancer across the EU and to reduce the disparity in survival rates between countries. The European Parliament has judged the most effective means of reducing disparities in care and mortality to be through population-based mammography screening programmes and the setting up of nationwide specialist breast units by 2016, as well as through training and auditing to assure quality standards. In order to be able to fulfil this priority program, there is a growing, high demand for qualified and well educated oncologists treating patients with breast cancer.

At present numerous continuing medical education (CME) seminars in the field of breast cancer are offered. However, to our knowledge, there is currently no competence programme, which is focusing on both the clinical and the scientific competence improving quality in the management of breast cancer patients.

The European School of Oncology, in co-operation with Ulm University, is presenting a structured Certificate of Competence in Breast Cancer Programme that was developed with the contribution of internationally recognised physicians and scientists in the field of breast cancer.
The Curriculum was established according to several practices and consensus guidelines - the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), San Gallen Breast Cancer Conference, Advanced Breast Cancer International Consensus Conference (ABC1 and ABC2), Breast Cancer in Young Women (BCY1).

The academic Certificate of Competence in Breast Cancer Programme provides a total extent of 381 hours comprehensive learning, accordingly reported with a workload of 13 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System Points (ECTS) by Ulm University. The Programme includes five modules and three substantive attendance seminars with an overall duration of 13 months.

(1) Cancer incidence and mortality worldwide: Lyon, International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2011 (IARC CancerBase No.10).
(2) Ferlay J, Steliarova-Foucher E,Lortet-Tieulent J et al. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns in Europe: Estimates for 40 countries in 2012. Eur J Cancer.2013 Feb 25. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2012.12.027
(3) 2010 Written Declaration on the Fight Against Breast Cancer in the European Union. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?reference=P7_TA(2010)0146&language=EN

Breast cancer