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Healthcare stakeholders join hands to fight lung cancer

Submitted by on 05 Dec 2016 – 10:13

The 2016 Lung Cancer Europe Roundtableorganised by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies took place in Brussels on Tuesday, 27th September. Members of the European Parliament, senior representatives from the World Health Organisation and European Commission, medical and clinical experts, NGOs, patient groups and other key stakeholders attended the roundtable to examine the ongoing challenges in managing lung cancer more effectively and explore practical solutions in order to reach an EU-wide consensus and implement a forward action plan. Arvind Venkataramana, Research Director, International Centre for Parliamentary Studies analyses  some key themes and recommendations put forward by the group to the European Parliament, the European Commission as well as the member states.

 The European Parliament viewpoint

The European Parliament’s viewpoint was delivered by Dr. Therese Comodini Cachia MEP, who is a part of the European Parliament’s interest group, MEPs Against Cancer (MAC). Dr.Cachia highlighted three points which she felt were crucial in the fight against lung cancer. First, patients should be the focal point in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Often, decisions about their treatment are made by their doctors with limited consultation with patients and their families. This can have a negative effect on the patient’s wellbeing.

Therefore, more needs to be done to ensure patients are part of the decision making process. Secondly, the onus of driving new research should not just lie with the European Commission or the European Parliament – member states should take greater responsibility and initiative in improving funding. Thirdly, the treatment of lung cancer should be holistic – we need more hospices to improve the quality of life of patients.
The World Health Organisation viewpoint
Dr. Marilys Corbex, Technical Officer – Regional Office for Europe at the World Health Organisation made a short presentation on the current state of affairs and offered recommendations to policy makers. She laid emphasis on the role of tobacco in lung cancer, the importance of screening and the need to improve personalised medicine.

The ECCO viewpoint
The third viewpoint of the roundtable came from Françoise Van Hemelryck, Patient Affairs Manager at the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO). ECCO’s vision is to improve the outcomes for cancer patients in Europe through multidisciplinarity. She stressed the need to bring a more rounded and multidimensional approach to screening, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.
European Commission viewpoint

Dr. Jan-Willem van de Loo, Scientific and Policy Officer in charge of cancer at the Directorate E – Health Research, DG Research and Innovation shared the European Commission’s viewpoint. He shared the latest developments in research funding and provided an update on Horizon 2020 as well as the European Commission’s areas of focus in lung cancer.

He mentioned that nearly 500 million Euros has been spent between 2014 and 2016 on cancer research with about 62 million Euros spent towards 46 lung cancer research projects. The Commission’s focus for the near future is on reducing risk factors, education, molecular pathogenesis, biomarkers, investigator-driven clinical trials, furthering research on ‘quality of life’ among other areas.

Where should EU act?

The ICPS Lung Cancer Europe Roundtable 2016 aims to put forward recommendations and proposals to key policy makers in the EU from different stakeholder perspectives. Here are some of them:

  1. Member states should encourage the sharing and consolidation of existing resources in research, clinical trials, treatment methodology, education and risk management;
  2. The ban on smoking is just a starting point in a series of preventative measures that member states and the EU should take to reduce the number of lung cancer cases;
  3. The care received in different member states should be consistent;
  4. Professional care has been neglected and more needs to be done to support it;
  5. Approval of drugs needs to be made more dynamic. Resources should be allocated towards the assessment of information that is flowing at a very fast pace through the European Commission;
  6. The danger of delays could result in cutting edge technologies and drugs not being available to the patients that need it the most;
  7. Collaborative initiatives need to be driven by member states and encouraged by the European Commission;
  8. There has to be constant dialogue between clinicians, policy makers, patient groups and pharmaceutical companies;
  9. One of the areas that is lacking adequate funding is the training of young physicians in order for them to record early symptoms of lung cancer;
  10. High quality screening for patients should be consistent across all member states, which currently is not the case;
  11. Lung cancer needs more research funding from the cancer research pool;
    Preventative measures need to be the primary focus – smoking bans should come into effect in countries where it has not been adequately limited/banned;
  12. Harmonisation of testing remains key and should be done through certification;
  13. The number of existing studies on lung cancer have to be consolidated as there are far too many closely related research projects in the EU;
  14. More data and information is required on molecular testing – there is still uncertainty over its cost/benefits
  15. Improving the quality of life for patients and their families should be the end goal.

For more information about the topics that were discussed this year, please email information@parlicentre.org. For details about the next edition of the Lung Cancer Europe Roundtable, please visit www.lungcancer.parlicentre.org