Umberto Veronesi

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Umberto Veronesi
Veronesi Napolitano (crop).jpg
Umberto Veronesi in 2011
Minister of Health
In office
25 April 2000 – 11 June 2001
Prime Minister Giuliano Amato
Preceded by Rosy Bindi
Succeeded by Girolamo Sirchia
Personal details
Born (1925-11-29) 29 November 1925 (age 90)
Milan, Italy
Nationality Italian
Political party Democratic Party
Other political
Italian Socialist Party
Profession Oncologist

Umberto Veronesi M.D. Knight Grand Cross OMRI (born 29 November 1925) is an Italian oncologist and politician, internationally known for his contributions on prevention and treatment of breast cancer throughout a career spanning over fifty years.

Early life and education[edit]

Veronesi was born in Milan. He obtained his degree in medicine from the University of Milan in 1952, and soon decided to dedicate his professional activity to the study and treatment of cancer.

Scientific career[edit]

After spending brief periods in England and France, he joined the Italian Cancer Institute in Milan as a volunteer. Veronesi is known as the founder of breast-conserving surgery in breast cancer treatment with the invention of the technique of quadrantectomy which challenged the idea, then dominating among surgeons, that cancer could only be treated with aggressive surgery. Since then, he has supported and promoted scientific research aimed at improving conservative surgical techniques, including sentinel lymph node biopsy, which has meant that axillary dissection in breast cancer with clinically negative lymph nodes is no longer performed. He also contributed to breast cancer prevention conducting studies on tamoxifen and retinoids and verifying their capabilities to prevent the formation of carcinoma. He has always been an activist in anti-tobacco campaigns. In 1994 he founded the European Institute of Oncology, which he still directs. He was appointed President of the Scientific Committee of the Italy-USA Foundation in 2010.

Political career[edit]

  • 1993 member of the national Commission against cancer.
  • 1998 member of the national Commission for the evaluation of "Di Bella therapy" against cancer.
  • 2000-2001 Minister of Health under the Amato II Cabinet.
On 25 April 2000 he was appointed to the Amato II Cabinet as the minister of health[1] and was in office until 11 June 2001. He was instrumental in the promotion of the anti-smoking in public places act.
  • 2008 Main candidate in Milan of the Democrate Party (Veltroni) to the Italian Senate.
  • 2010-2011 Chairman of Italy's Nuclear Safety Agency.[2][3][4]

Ethical views[edit]

Over the years, Veronesi has public expressed his views on several ethical issues, in interviews, televised debates and in his books.

Veronesi identifies himself as an atheist, not believing in any deity and in any form of afterlife; he claims that human beings should not consider death a terrifying moment but rather accept it as a biological necessity.[5]

He supports active euthanasia, affirming the right of any individual to freely dispose of his life when it becomes unbearable due to suffering, pain or loss of dignity. He advocates the necessity to regulate euthanasia at a national level, citing Dutch legislation as a good starting point;[6] he is currently promoting a campaign for the introduction of living will as a legally binding agreement between the doctor and the incapacitated patient.[7]

Veronesi supports genetically modified organisms as a mean to produce food with higher nutritional capabilities and deprived of potentially carcinogenic substance; he criticized the current dominating opposition to GMOs as due to scarce knowledge of science.[8]

Veronesi is an ethical vegetarian.[9]


Veronesi made public statements in favor of incinerators as «the only sensible way to deal with garbage disposal», and being «not dangerous for public health», during the TV show "Che tempo che fa" on the 20 January 2008. Some researchers such as Antonietta Gatti or Stefano Montanari dispute these statements.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Giuliano Amato Italy's new Prime Minister". Cosmopolis. 6. May 2000. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Migliaccio, Alessandra (12 November 2010). "Doctor Heading Italy's New Atomic Agency Pledges to Sell Nuclear Revival". Bloomberg. 
  4. ^ Rendina, Federico (4 September 2011). "Agenzia nucleare, Veronesi lascia". Il Sole 24 ORE (in Italian). 
  5. ^ "Io voglio morire così". OK! La salute prima di tutto. February 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  6. ^ "Veronesi difende l'eutanasia "Morire è un diritto fondamentale"". La Repubblica (in Italian). 18 November 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
  7. ^ Pappagallo, Mario (1 March 2006). "Veronesi: fate testamento biologico". Corriere Della Sera. Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
  8. ^ "Intervista all'ex Ministro della Salute Veronesi". La Stampa (in Italian). 28 October 2004. Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
  9. ^ "Intervista a Umberto Veronesi". Oggi (in Italian). 23 October 2002. Retrieved 5 February 2007. 
  10. ^ Antonietta Gatti, Stefano Montanari, Nanopathology, Singapore: Pan Stanford: 2007.
  11. ^ A.M. Gatti and S. Montanari, Nanocontamination of the Soldiers in a Battle Space in Nanomaterials: Risks and Benefits (NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security), Springer Netherlands, 2009.


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Rosy Bindi
Italian Minister of Health
2000 – 2001
Succeeded by
Girolamo Sirchia