In memoriam Professor Klaas Breur

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Klaas Breur, 1916 - 1981.    Painting oil on canvas by ……

In 1980 Klaas Breur is diagnosed with a melanoma, and he is treated for this in his own department. Klaas Breur dies on 18 June 1981 at the age of 65. 

The staff of the Radiotherapy Department of the NKI commissions a portrait Klaas Breur. He is pictured sitting in front of the window in his house at the Amstel River at the outer border of Amsterdam, with the river behind him. In 2012 the multi media meeting room in the remodeled and enlarged Radiotherapy Department has been named after Professor Breur and his portrait is placed here.

In Professor Breur the Netherlands Cancer Institute loses a powerful organiser who had, as head of the Radiotherapy Department and member of the medical staff of the institution, a vital role in the development of the multi disciplinary treatment approach for which the NKI is well-known.

Although he suffers from his illness, Professor Breur decides to attend an official farewell party with his colleagues and co-workers of the Radiotherapy Department. It is for many people a compelling and emotional event. The tasks of Professor Breur as head of the Radiotherapy Department in the NKI were taken over by Jan Bangert. Harry Bartelink is in charge of the coordination of the research in the department.   

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Professor Breur at his farewell party, surrounded by co-workers of his department in the NKI. Left Bart van Bunningen (radiation oncologist) and right Riet van der Heide (head radiation therapist).

Klaas Breur has had a significant influence on the development of radiation oncology in The Netherlands and abroad, and much was still expected from him. He was actively involved in setting up various initiatives for national and international cooperation. From 1978 until he died, he was chairman of the Netherlands Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology. In that period Breur, together with Professor Thomas from Leiden, urged the necessity of installing a commission for radiotherapy at the National Health Council. This commission (1976-?) calculates and predicts the need for radiotherapy facilities in our country.   

At the European level he was one of the driving forces behind the growth of the EORTC (EuropeanOrganisationfor Research and Treatment of Cancer) and the founding of ESTRO (European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology). When ESTRO was founded in 1980 he became the first chairman. In September 1980 he became honorary member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). During his farewell in March 1981 he received the Rotgans award from the Board of Directors of The Netherlands Cancer Institute.

During his career Professor Breur was involved three times  in the design of a radiotherapy department. This type of activity had his particular interest. He was proud to be the son of a contractor. He had a special gift for designing a logical and efficient layout of a building, with optimal possibilities for performing the daily work in a radiotherapy department. In 1965, the new Daniel den Hoed clinic was opened in Rotterdam. Followed in 1973 by the radiotherapy department on the new site of the new Netherlands Cancer Institute, and in 1983 by the radiotherapy department of the University Medical Centre (AMC) in Amsterdam South-East.