In Bulgaria, the survival rate of patients with oncological diseases is lower if compared to most Western countries. Oncology is considered a young specialty, some universities do not even recognise it as a separate subject, and surgical oncology is not seen as a subspeciality. Bulgarians rarely actively participate in big international oncological conferences or in international courses.
For these reasons, in 2019 W4O-Bulgaria (W4O-B) was established to support oncology professionals, aiming to improve the knowledge of both patients and physicians and to increase the quality of cancer care in Bulgaria.
Governing bodies and members
W4O-B includes five core Members:
- Chair: Assia Konsoulova-Kirova, medical oncologist
- Secretary: Hristina Ivanovska-Peneva, radiation oncologist
- Elitsa Valerieva, gynecologist
- Yaroslava Petrova, pathologist
ROSE: Development of an online patient diary for patients with breast cancer
Not only does ROSE stands for “Rising the Oncology patients Survival among the European countries", but it is also the symbol of Bulgaria. Therefore, the name came naturally for an online platform, which aims to raise awareness and improve the quality of cancer care, patient motivation, follow-up, and survival rates for Bulgarian patients.
The project won second prize on the 1st edition of the Think Pink Europe Innovation Award, which was held in Brussels on 8 March 2020. The software was successfully developed and launched in January 2022.
Multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of breast cancer – a textbook for surgeons
There is no national screening program for breast cancer in Bulgaria. Most often, surgeons are the first to consult a patient with a lesion in the breast.
It is common practice in many other countries to manage all oncology patients, including those with breast cancer, in a multidisciplinary team. Unfortunately, this is not an established practice in Bulgaria. Therefore, this project was very important to enrich the knowledge and to guide surgeons, making them familiar with some of the most common multidisciplinary treatment options.
Seminars and events for patients
One of the most important goals of W4O-B is to transfer evidence-based knowledge in Bulgarian for Bulgarian patients and to increase their level of information and education in oncology. To do so, we organised several events as a part of an initiative named Oncohelp. Thanks to the participation of one or two specialists in the field of oncology for each event, important topics have been discussed in the presence of many patients and their families.
In September 2020, together with the support of the Advanced Breast Cancer Alliance and the Comprehensive cancer center Burgas, Bulgaria, we initiated a project for patients in which different beauty and cosmetic items, such as wigs, scarfs, bras, breast prostheses, and skincare products were donated to patients.
W4O-B also participates in the organisation of online and onsite educational events for residents and young doctors, as well as other patient-dedicated events to improve their education and access to quality information and care.