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Home » EU Health, Healthcare Policy, Prostate Cancer

Professional groups call for action to lower the risk and mortality rate of prostate cancer

Submitted by on 14 Jul 2017 – 09:20

Implementing prostate cancer awareness campaigns and corresponding survivorship plans, at both European and national levels, are key elements in effective healthcare strategies, but these moves have to be underpinned by a dynamic research environment and efficient collaborative work between professional and patient advocacy groups. Prof Dr Hein Van Poppel, Adjunct Secretary General – Education, European Association for Urology, briefly presents the main findings of the White Paper on Prostate Cancer, launched at the PCa Europe Roundtable 2017 organised by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies at Brussels in February 2017

In conjunction with a recent Roundtable organised by the International Centre of Parliamentary Studies, where EU policymakers, medical professionals, academic experts, healthcare payers and patient groups explored practical solutions to reach an EU-wide consensus on the management of the prostate cancer, the European Association of Urology (EAU) announced the launch of a new White Paper discussing how we can lower the risk and reduce the mortality rate of this deadly cancer.

Prostate cancer (PCa) affects one in seven men in Europe and accounts for more than 417,000 new cases and 92,000 deaths recorded annually in the region. In comparison, breast cancer, the most common cancer in European women, recorded an estimated incidence of 458,337 in 2012. One in eight women in the EU-28 will develop breast cancer before the age of 85. Although the statistics are quite similar, the public awareness for breast cancer is much higher.

This White Paper on PCa was prepared in close connection with medical experts, representatives from related medical societies and patient advocacy group and covered key topics such as risk factors and prevention, diagnosis, treatment, living with prostate cancer, the role of the EAU and the current activities initiated by the European Union (EU) regarding cancer control.

Prevention

Besides established risk factors like increasing age, ethnic origin and family history, the White Paper states that obesity has an important impact on the progression of the disease. Underscoring that there is limited, conflicting or low-level evidence to directly link PCa to obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise, among other factors, the White Paper still recommends the importance of early detection to remain ahead of the disease’s metastatic spread.

Early detection reduces PCa-related mortality and reduces the risk of being diagnosed with and developing advanced and metastatic PCa, especially when conducted in combination with guideline-based treatment. The EAU widely disseminates a set of guidelines on prostate cancer treatment which are officially endorsed by the national urological societies of all 28 EU member states and 27 countries outside Europe.

One of the main recommendations of the White Paper is that “future updates of the EAU guidelines should take into consideration the recommendations made by the European Commission’s Joint Action on Cancer Control (CanCon) in relation to the creation of survivorship cancer plans, to be provided by the urologist to the patients as a guide to facilitate the return of the patient to a normal life.”

Regarding future prospects, the White Paper stressed the importance of creating a favourable environment for translational research on prostate cancer.  Boosting research studies that examine new biomarkers and gene mutations linked to inherited and aggressive types of prostate disease may lead to the development of diagnostic and prognostic markers, risk stratification and more effective drugs. These new personalised treatments may further improve clinical effectiveness and may have fewer side effects,” the paper noted.

However, research outcomes have to be conveyed to patient groups and their usefulness placed within the context of individual treatment plans. To achieve this goal, the EAU stresses increased awareness on the potential of personalised medicine to both European and national decision-makers. The current collaborations between the EAU, the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and the European Prostate Cancer Coalition (Europa Uomo) will be extended to ensure that patients and policymakers are aware of the need to facilitate research into personalised medicines for PCa.

“The role of PCa patient advocacy groups is also extremely important to sustain awareness campaigns, both at the European and national level and to help achieve the main goals set out in this paper,” the EAU said as it reiterated to continue actively engaging EU institutions.

Role of the European Union

The White Paper also highlighted the EU’s central role in bringing together various sectors as reflected by the European Commission creating in 2014 the Expert Group on Cancer Control, and followed in the same year with the establishment of CanCon aiming to create a European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control, which is intended for governments, parliamentarians, health care providers and funders and cancer care professionals at every level.

“Given the EU competence in public health and prevention, the EU could certainly do more to help raise awareness of medical practitioners and citizens on PCa. Programmes such as the EU Health Programme could provide support to a pan-European awareness raising campaign on PCa, either through a specific call for proposals for projects on this topic, or through making cancer a priority for framework partnership agreements with European non-governmental organisations,” the White Paper noted.

In its call for all stakeholders to consolidate their efforts and benefit from synergies, the White Paper underscored that equitable healthcare access and effective awareness campaigns and survivorship plans are equally vital. All contributors agree on the fact that PCa is a considerable healthcare problem that would benefit from a uniform EU-wide risk adapted early detection programme for PCa.

The EU should increase funding to improve both the diagnosis and treatment of men with PCa. It needs to fund work to better understand the association between potential risk factors and lethal PCa. Together with the EAU, research organisations and patients groups, the European Union should start acting by raising men’s awareness of PCa and consistent EU actions in this area.

About the European Association of Urology

The EAU represents the leading authority within Europe on urological practice, research and education. Over 15,000 medical professionals have joined its ranks and contribute to their mission: To raise the level of urological care throughout Europe and beyond. For over 40 years the EAU has addressed the most pressing issues of urological care in Europe and stimulates scientific and educational initiatives.

Prostate Cancer is one of those pressing issues.  The White Paper Prostate Cancer, recommendations to lower risk and mortality rate of the most frequent cancer in men, is one of many initiatives the EAU takes in this field. For more information see uroweb.org.