The European Institute of Oncology (IEO) is one of the fastest growing comprehensive cancer centers in Europe. Based at the Milan city gates, it is a hub of global expertise against cancer and entirely dedicated to patients and clinical research. It brings together more than 1500 professionals for whom research is equally committed to scientific discovery and patient care. IEO’s world-class clinical investigators work with a multidisciplinary approach across disciplines, departments, and institutional boundaries to translate research findings into new diagnostics and therapeutics for patients.
The IEO is a non-profit, comprehensive cancer center that offers a complete integration of the different areas in the fight against cancer: laboratory research, clinical research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and training.
The « Istituto Europeo di Oncologia (IEO)» – European Institute of Oncology was inaugurated in 1994 with accreditation from the Institute of Research, Care, and Hospitalization. One of IEO’s most important aims is to achieve excellence in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by developing clinical, scientific research and innovation in a context of constant high-quality services offered to all patients and their families. It houses 292 hospital beds and each year performs roughly 150,000 specialist visits and more than 110,000 diagnostic exams, as well as registers nearly 17,000 hospitalizations.
Excellence, comprehensive care, and high-quality services are IEO’s most important values and objectives, which it ensures by continuously monitoring and implementing institute performance, medical and technological platforms, and medical staff expertise.
In an effort to improve care offerings and research quality, the nationally and internationally recognized IEO undertakes self-assessment and external peer accreditation processes. In the last two decades, the quality of IEO’s management, staff, and departmental activities have all received:
- Approval from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) (since December 2002)
- European certification, UNI EN ISO 9000:2000 (International Organization for Standardization)
- Approval from the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI)
- Approval from the National Observatory for Women’s Health Care
Moreover, in the last two decades, IEO has also been awarded for its high-quality service offerings and its outstanding performances by:
- Top Employers Institute
- International Benchmarking
For several years, IEO has been recognized by the Top Employer Institute, a global not-for-profit and non-governmental organization that certifies excellence in conditions that employers create for their workers.
The ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology) awards cancer centers that provide comprehensive services in supportive and palliative care as part of their routine, by recognizing them as Designated Centers of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care. The assessment process is based on recommendations from World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
The Hospital Benchmarking Award is an important recognition assigned to the best six hospitals in the world. As the only European entity among the six winners, IEO has been identified for having the best practice in the health care and treatment of patients with cancer. The selection of best centers was performed on the behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Center of Health Care Management of the University of Westphalia, which has conducted a thorough analysis of all aspects of its structures and facilities, as well as its patient care processes and management analysis.
1: Breast Cancer
2: ENT Cancer; Female Genitourinary Cancer
6: Kidneys and Urinary Tract Tumors
7: Blood Tumors and Hematopoietic and Linfonode Cancer
8: Esophageal Tumors; Colon and Rectal cancer
16: Endocrine System Tumors
21: Lung Cancer
23: Pancreatic Cancer
- Programma Nazionale valutazione Esiti, gestito dall’Agenzia Nazionale per i Servizi Sanitari Regionali per conto del Ministero della Salute;
- Sportello Cancro – Corriere della Sera, in collaborazione con la Fondazione Umberto Veronesi per il progresso delle scienze)
- IlSole24Ore (classificazione su scala nazionale effettuata dall’agenzia AGENAS)
All of IEO’s medical and surgical activities are characterized by a multidisciplinary approach that takes the form of programs, consisting of both surgical and medical divisions, to guarantee patients the best clinical skills, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up, as well as palliative care, pain treatment, and side effect management.
IEO’s health care services are offered and organized in 37 operative units within eight multidisciplinary programs:
- Breast Cancer Program
- Lung Cancer Program
- Melanoma, Sarcomas and Rare Tumors Program
- Gynecology Program
- Hepatic, Pancreatic and Digestive System Cancer Program
- Urology and Mini-Invasive Prostatic Program
- Haemato-oncology Program
- Head and Neck Cancer Program
- Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
- Department of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences
BREAST CANCER PROGRAM
The IEO Breast Cancer Program aims to bring together multidisciplinary excellence in clinical and surgical research to achieve maximum effectiveness in serving patients, by combining all forms of research for application in medical and surgery services.
The IEO Breast Cancer Program has renowned experience in the treatment of several pathologies and malignancies.
Area of excellence: Breast cancer surgery
At IEO, breast cancer surgery is concerned with clinical research in order to develop new surgical techniques that can improve the effectiveness of treatments for breast cancer that also preserve the integrity of the woman’s body. The number of patients who undergo breast surgery at IEO is the largest in the world; the reason for this primacy is that IEO is the leading center for all key achievements in breast surgery.
LUNG CANCER PROGRAM
IEO’s Lung Cancer Program has a multidisciplinary approach to treat several pathologies, malignancies, and diseases of the thoracic region. It comprises two divisions:
- Thoracic Surgery: This division applies the most advanced techniques available in the treatment of any disease regarding the thorax, with a particular specialization in the multidisciplinary management of primary lung cancer and lung metastases. Other important areas of intervention are cancer of the mediastinum and esophagus and chest wall tumors. Its surgical activity is characterized by a conservative approach, with great attention to treatment outcomes and post-surgical quality of life. The division has a strong commitment to research, which develops primarily in four areas: clinical research, molecular biology, chemo-prevention, and early diagnosis.
- Thoracic Oncology: The clinical activity of this division involves the treatment of patients with lung cancer during both pre-surgical and post-surgical periods. Its close collaboration with the Thoracic Surgery staff allow the IEO to offer patients at all stages of the disease the best treatment available and therefore facilitates the logistics of health care services. Its medical services include outpatient visits for consultations and administration of oral therapies, day hospital admissions for more complex treatments, and hospitalization for complex therapies, which could be integrated with surgery and/or radiotherapy.
MELANOMA, SARCOMAS AND RARE TUMORS PROGRAM
The Melanoma, Sarcoma and Rare Cancers Program (MSTR) is a heterogeneous program which aims to optimize scientific, logistic and care resources in order to treat individually rare tumors which present similarities from an intellectual and therapeutic review, such as to justify their unified treatment.
IEO is able to offer patients with a rare tumor the same competence and quality of care as for patients with more common cancers. The focus of the diagnostic-therapeutic-support pathway is the patient, with the combination of his or her clinical and mental and physical characteristics and the biological characteristics of his or her disease.
It includes four divisions:
- Melanoma and Sarcoma Oncology Division
- Sarcoma and Thymoma Oncology Division
- Melanoma Ongology Unit
- Melanoma and Sarcoma and Rare Cancers Surgery Division
IEO’s Gynecology Program takes a multidisciplinary approach in treating several pathologies, malignancies, and diseases affecting women of all ages. It includes two divisions:
- Gynecology: This division provides all services related to the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of gynecological oncology patients. In addition to its clinical and research activity, members of the division actively participate in university education, institutional frameworks, and workshops involving next-generation physicians and specialists. It pays particular attention to the development of minimally invasive techniques in order to reduce the impact of surgery, all while maintaining a high degree of quality and adopting multidisciplinary approaches for the treatment of ovarian and cervical cancer to reduce the likelihood of cancer recurrence.
- Oncologic Gynecology: This division is devoted primarily to the development and implementation of clinical studies and trials regarding medical treatments of gynecologic cancers. It cooperates with numerous pharmaceutical centers and international research groups and is responsible for and coordinates several multi-center studies.
HEPATIC, PANCREATIC AND GASTROINTESTINAL PROGRAM
The Hepatic, Pancreatic, and Gastrointestinal Program consists of multiple, interconnected divisions that can provide a multidisciplinary approach to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide ensemble of pathologies regarding the endocrinology system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver. The program’s divisions manage surgical treatments, with integrated multi-disciplinarity, of all digestive cancers: esophageal, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, colon–rectum, anus, liver, gall bladder and biliary tract, and pancreas. The division’s surgeons have also developed a specific competence in the treatment of abdominal sarcoma, gastrointestinal stomal tumors, neuroendocrine tumors of the digestive tract, and peritoneal and pelvic tumor recurrence, the latter of which are treated in close cooperation with gynecologists and urologists at IEO. The case history of patients undergoing robotic surgery (da Vinci Surgical System) for the treatment of rectal cancer exceeds 300 cases, which ranks IEO among the most expert care centers in the world.
The Hepatic, Pancreatic, and Gastrointestinal Program comprises five divisions:
- Hepato-Bilio-Pancreatic Surgery Division
- Gastrointestinal Tract Surgery Division
- Endoscopy Division
- Medical Oncology Unit and Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Division
- Interventional Radiology Division
UROLOGY AND MINI-INVASIVE PROSTATIC PROGRAM
The Prostate Urogenital Research Excellence (PURE) Program stems from the desire to create a multidisciplinary, translational approach in the management and treatment of patients with prostate cancer or other uro-oncological diseases, via the quick and effective transfer of scientific discoveries into clinical practice through the identification and validation of new biomarkers for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic purposes.
With an aim toward more preventative medicine and by addressing the development of personalized therapies (i.e., tailored therapies), the program seeks to ensure an integrated, multidisciplinary approach, by minimizing the possibility of exposing patients to over-diagnosis or drug toxicity, thereby improving quality of life.
AREA OF EXCELLENCE: UROLOGY
- Multi-parametric Prostate MRIs: These MRIs provide morphological images of high spatial resolution (<1 mm) along with functional images that offer information regarding lesion cellularity and vascularization. Multi-parametric MRIs of the prostate improve the performance of conventional MRIs and have thus become fundamental in planning the diagnostic and therapeutic path for patients. At IEO in 2012, more than 500 multi-parametric MRIs of the prostate were performed, which makes IEO a national leader in prostate imaging.
- Robotic Surgery: The da Vinci System operates with a minimally invasive approach that applies the latest in surgical and robotics technologies, which make it ideal for delicate urologic surgery. This includes prostatectomy, in which the target site is not only tightly confined but also surrounded by nerves affecting urinary control and sexual function. Sparing those nerves means enhancing both the recovery experience and clinical outcomes.
- “Give Me Five!”: Since 2010, a whole prostate radiotherapy treatment cycle can be performed successfully in five days, instead of the regular eight-week treatment, thanks to a procedure called high-dose prostate radiotherapy that has boasted outstanding results. Prostate cancer can therefore be treated with briefly targeted radiotherapy that reaches very high dosages if the patient meets certain clinical criteria. Inaugurated in 2012, IEO’s Advanced Radiotherapy Center has enabled this new treatment to be developed and applied through the integration of advanced technology and research.
The Hemato-oncology Division at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) is a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, dedicated to two main objectives in the field of hematological malignancies:
- Comprehensive treatment for all patients presenting with hematological malignancies: The Division is offering patients the latest therapies following international guidelines and supportive resources
- Development of innovative clinical research protocols: the division combines innovative research discoveries with the best clinical treatments to improve outcomes for patients. Innovative research focuses on:
- Outcome Research, aimed to evaluate the long-term outcome along with prognostic factors for virtually all patients managed at the Hemato-oncology Division
- Clinical trials with new drugs
- Clinical trials that aims at ‘repositioning’ already approved drugs (searching for new indications, or new scheme of therapy)
- Close interactions with diagnostic and research teams, involved in the Hematology Program at IEO, i.e.
HEAD AND NECK ONCOLOGY PROGRAM
The goal of the Head and Neck Oncology Program is to develop and support research and educational activities to ultimately improve detection, prevention, rehabilitation and quality-of-life issues relating to head and neck cancer, and to further develop translational, interdisciplinary research and educational programs.
The specific objectives of the program are to:
- Improve diagnosis and management of head and neck cancers through collaborative basic and clinical research projects.
- Train basic and clinical scientists with an orientation toward translational research.
- Evaluate specific risk factors which predict the benefits of pre- and post-operative interventions for individual head and neck cancer patients.
The Head and Neck Oncology Program comprises two divisions:
- Head and Neck Surgery
- Medical Division of Head and Neck Tumors
AREA OF EXCELLENCE: IEO CHECK-UP
IEO’s Check-Up can be defined as a personalized program for prevention and diagnosis, customized according to age and sex and coordinated by an expert interdisciplinary team. It is based on the latest scientific evidence drawn from the European Code Against Cancer and the Guidelines of the American Heart Association, all with the aim of protecting people against major risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Unique to Italy, IEO Check-Up is a cancer and cardiovascular check-up program that represents an indispensable tool for diagnosis and prevention, as well as for the evolution and remission of the disease.
Thanks to the prompt transfer of research results into clinical practice, IEO’s innovative clinical methods provide the best care, along with a commitment to safeguard the quality of life. Today, patients come from all over the world to see IEO physicians, many of whom are leaders in their respective fields.
The cornerstone of translational research of IEO staff is collaboration: close interactions among basic scientists, computational biologists, chemists, clinical investigators, statisticians and others. IEO also enjoys fruitful partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, which have the complementary resources needed to help transform promising compounds into drugs and biologics. A major research theme is linking knowledge of the genes that cause cancer to the discovery and testing of new therapeutics, involving both small-molecule drugs and immune approaches. Other key themes relate to developing personalized medicine strategies by using genetic, epidemiological, and population-based studies to determine risk and ideal treatment for individual patients. In addition to bringing together treatment, research and teaching in an integrated environment, IEO has distinguished itself through innovative organisation and positioning.
- Department of Experimental Oncology: the Department of Experimental Oncology of IEO is composed of about 250 scientists and 16 Research Groups. It also includes one dedicated Translational Program: SmartFood Program.Scientific interests are mainly focused on molecular (genomic instability, epigenomic alterations, cell-fate determination) and biological (tumor cell-heterogeneity, microenvironment) mechanisms of transformation. Emphasis is given to generation of tumor models (yeast, mouse-models, xenotransplants), applications of high-throughput screening-technologies (proteomics, (epi)genomics, and structural biology) and development of dedicated computational tools and approaches. The Department shares state-of-the-art technological platforms and facilities with IFOM and IIT, including: Genomics, Crystallography, Mass Spectrometry, Imaging, Mice, Protein Chemistry, PCR and other DNA services, Microarrays.
- Molecular Medicine for Care Program (MMC): the current scientific programs aim to:
- Identify stem cell markers for the diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic stratification of breast, lung and ovarian cancers.
- Develop a blood test for the early diagnosis of lung cancer.
- Understand breast and ovarian cancer for early diagnosis.
- Make new discoveries to increase our molecular understanding of cancer and feed new translational research projects.
- Program in Nutrition Science and Communication (SmartFood): the aim of the “SmartFood” program is devoted to developing nutritional improvement at different levels taking advantage of our already existing network. The potential goals of the project include:
- Identify compounds in foods that interact with longevity genetic pathways (smart food compounds)
- Select those foods enriched for such compounds (smart foods)
- Validate the effects of “smart food compounds” and “smart foods” in disease prevention and cure, in model systems and humans (smart trial 1)
- Develop “smart food compounds” into dietary supplements or pharmaceutical drugs
- Promote good health through nutrition and the primary prevention of nutrition related illness in the population (science communication, societal interventions).
- Psycho-Oncology Research Department: the research has focused on the study of decision making process in medicine in order to study the factors involved both from doctors’ and patients’ point of view, in conditions of uncertainty and risk, often characterized by an increased emotional burden.With this background, the Unit promotes a multidisciplinary perspective, aimed at developing a new psycho-cognitive approach for decision-making in medicine. In addition to strictly medical matters and biological data, by developing a personalized approach that takes into account the analysis and interpretation of the cognitive components (information needs, preferences, decision-making, beliefs and knowledge about the disease and health), the psychological components (level of stress, anxiety, depression) and the behavioral (lifestyle)components of each patient, we aim to promote patient empowerment and increase participation in the process of care, compliance and satisfaction.