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Postgraduate Lymphology Training in Europe

Diseases of the lymphatic vessels have a high incidence but are poorly understood, as they are the subject of little research. The lymphatic system and its diseases are seldom mentioned during the undergraduate medical curriculum. There is also a lack of postgraduate training in lymphology for medical doctors. However, diseases of the lymphatics have a high incidence. In developed countries around 20-50% of the patients having undergone surgery and/or radiation for cancer of the breast, vulva, cervix or melanoma of the extremities develop these disabling conditions. In developing countries around 40 million people have lymphedema due to filaria infection according to WHO data from 2007.This project surges as a pioneer attempt to end the current situation, as there is a strong need from the patient’s side of qualified physicians, and a lack of offer of specialised professionals.This partnership reunites some of the few European specialists in lymphology, as well as a representative of a medical association in order to develop an academic full cycle of studies for medical doctors. The pedagogy will be centred in the learning outcomes established by the curricular structure, and the main outputs will consist in written pedagogical materials and video lectures in DVD. As target end users are postgraduate European medical doctors, the training will be in English at first.In the third year of the project a pilot group of trainees consisting not only of the teachers, but also of medical doctors external to the partnership (future tutors) will undergo the training. Their feed-back will allow the final corrections of the curricula and of the examination methodology before opening the training to the public (beyond project lifetime).A dissemination and exploitation strategy will raise the awareness of target groups and decision makers about the necessity of this training and the importance of supporting it. Concerted contact with European medical associations will start the process of validation of this join degree. Other stakeholders like patient associations, industrials dealing with products connected with lymphedema therapy and research centres will also be involved in the development of this neglected field of medicine in order to obtain a sustainable renewal of this tertiary health sector.
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