Europa Uomo is celebrating its 20th anniversary in its birthplace, Milan. To mark the occasion, Erik Briers, founder and current Board member, recounts the early years

Patient advocacy groups had existed for many years when Europa Uomo came into existence. The big drivers came from America, where patients with AIDS had become very vocal in the early 1980s. The said you can’t do things without talking to us, and they changed the landscape.

In Europe, it was in the mid-1990s when the European School of Oncology (ESO) identified the need for an international organisation of women with breast cancer, and then they built on that. In 2002 Professor Alberto Costa and Professor Umberto Veronesi from ESO met with Tom Hudson from Ireland and Louis Denis from Belgium to create Europa Uomo. ESO was Europa Uomo’s first sponsor, financially supporting the founding group and gathering people to sit down together and to create Europa Uomo.

At that time, I was receiving treatment for prostate cancer myself, under Professor Hein Van Poppel. Hein, through his own work with ESO, had become involved with Europa Uomo, and he asked me to join the group that was creating Europa Uomo.

So between 2002 and 2004, led by Louis Denis and Tom Hudson, we got together with quite a few existing prostate cancer patient organisations in Europe. We needed a manifesto and statutes if we were to become a real organisation that could take action. And this happened. Our statutes were formally signed on 11th June 2004 in Milan. This year, for our General Assembly at the end of March, we return to Milan to celebrate our 20th anniversary with our members.

From the start, there were many patients and clinicians supporting Europa Uomo, wishing us all the best for the future.  Members of our first board represented countries from across Europe, with no two people coming from the same country. Our first Chairman, Tom Hudson from Ireland, who sadly died last year, did a great job in getting the group to move forward together.

If you look at our original manifesto, it is remarkable how the original Europa Uomo priorities remain today: quality of life, awareness, early detection, optimum treatment. These are still this issues that drive our activity, and where there is still a great deal of room for improvement.

There have been many highlights since our foundation. We have attended many EAU Congresses since 2004 and our profile and influence there continues. Recently we have presented the results of both our EUPROMS and EU-PROPER studies at EAU.

Our annual General Assemblies have gone from strength to strength. Last year, in Cyprus, both the European Commissioner for Health and the President of Cyprus attended.  We have been politically active. Through the European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day (EPAD), first held in 2012, we have asserted the need well-informed men to have the right to PSA test. We have campaigned for prostate cancer screening throughout Europe, and with the help of EAU we are getting there.

Now we are celebrating Europa Uomo's anniversary at our General Assembly in the city where it all started 20 years ago: Milan. We can look back in pride at our achievements together.

Pictured: Europa Uomo representatives at the EAU Congress in Stockholm, Sweden in 2009 (picture by Erik Briers)

View Erik Briers' PowerPoint about the history of Europa Uomo, presented at the 2024 General Assembly in Milan.