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News

12Oct 2020

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‘Advisory Board on Cancer in Pregnancy’ awarded Patient Impact Award 2020

The Advisory Board on Cancer in Pregnancy helps physicians in the Netherlands in to reach the best possible treatment decisions for pregnant cancer patients. This unique initiative will be awarded the Netherlands Cancer Institute Patient Impact Award.

'A second opinion from 28 specialists at once'

The Advisory Board on Cancer in Pregnancy was founded in 2012 by gynecological oncologist Christianne Lok crom the Netherlands Cancer Institute. The board functions as a reference network for physicians in the Netherlands in order to reach the best treatment decisions for pregnant cancer patients. The group, which began as a core team at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, now consists of 28 experts from academic centers all over the Netherlands, with various fields of expertise. These specializations are all necessary in order to reach the best treatment decisions in situations that are always unique and complex. "Doctors and patients can count on a second opinion from 28 specialists at once," Christianne Lok says.

'A second opinion from 28 specialists at once'

The Advisory Board on Cancer in Pregnancy, which began as a core team at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, now consists of 28 experts from academic centers all over the Netherlands, with various fields of expertise. These specializations are all necessary in order to reach the best treatment decisions in situations that are always unique and complex. "Doctors and patients can count on a second opinion from 28 specialists at once," Christianne Lok says.

Each patient is unique

Cancer during pregnancy fortunately does not occur often: only one in 1000-2000 women will experience cancer during pregnancy. This does, however, mean that most gynecologists and oncologists do not have a lot of experience treating these patients, and the patients they do encounter present with a wide variety of tumor types, making each individual case even more unique.

"We believe that every patient with cancer deserves the best care possible, even if her unique situation does not allow for the standard treatment," Christianne explains.

Physicians face a difficult decision: should treatment occur immediately - leaving the patient with a better prognosis -  or postponing treatment for as long as possible to avoid harming the unborn child?

The Advisory Board for Cancer in Pregnancy includes anesthesiologists, medical oncologists, hematologists, surgeons, radiation therapists, gynecologists, clinical pharmacologists, and scientific researchers.

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Research

Until ten years ago, most women diagnosed with cancer had to terminate their pregnancies, or give birth prematurely, in order to start treatment. Thanks to our very own Frédéric Amant as well as others, much research has been done on cancer treatment during pregnancy. These studies have shown us that it is possible to start treatment during the early stages of pregnancy. We have adopted this procedure in accordance with the guidelines outlined by the Advisory Board for Cancer in Pregnancy in the Netherlands and abroad.

New knowledge

Doctors and patients alike can benefit from the Advisory Board's guidelines in the process of shared decision making when facing difficult choices. All physicians involved also acquire new knowledge through their work with the Advisory Board, which will further aid the treatment of cancer in pregnancy. These benefits will be further amplified once more countries join forces, Christianne Lok knows.  

Back in 2012, such an advisory board did not exist anywhere in the world. Nowadays, some other European countries have followed suit and set up their own team, with the support of the Dutch Advisory Board.

The Patient Impact Award

The Netherlands Cancer Institute Board of Directors founded the Patient Impact Award in 2018 to highlight all groundbreaking clinical innovations at the NKI. This involves clinical innovations that have made, or are expected to make, significant improvements in diagnostics, treatment, or quality of life for people with cancer. They are all based on a therapeutic concept or scientific discovery developed at the Netherlands Cancer Institute itself.

Links:
Adviesgroep Kanker in de Zwangerschap (AKZ)

Posters Pia 2020 Final Preview
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