The yearly burden of cancer is expected to increase in the 28 EU member states from 3.0 mio cases in 2018 to around 4.0 mio new cases in 2040. Over this period, the number of individuals that live with a cancer diagnosis and treatment and require regular screening and specialised care, including rehabilitation and psychological and socio-economic support, will rise even steeper. With cancer emerging as one of the leading chronic diseases, European healthcare systems are under increasing pressure and will soon be faced with shortage of specialized personnel and resources.
Over the two last decades, the cancer community has explored initiatives that would ensure that all cancer patients will have access to the treatment, care and support they deserve. As a result, the European Commission has recently launched a Cancer Mission, implementing a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to cancer research to tackle the challenge.
To assist with this endeavour, the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS) has consulted a wide range of cancer research, policy, and care specialists and patient organisations to formulate consensus advice to the Cancer Mission Board.
They reached the consensus view that a comprehensive translational cancer research approach that is focused on personalized/ precision medicine and that covers the entire cancer research, cancer care and prevention continuum has the potential to achieve in 2030 the goal of a 10-year cancer-specific survival for 75% of the patients diagnosed with cancer in EU Member states with a well-developed healthcare system. The effect of primary prevention on incidence and mortality, however, is viewed as a more long-term goal.
In their policy article, that has just appeared in Molecular Oncology, the experts emphasize the need for three sustainable cross-border infrastructures that enable close collaboration of European scientists active in translational research, clinical and prevention trials, and outcomes research. Extensive European networks could provide researchers with access to a critical mass of patients, biological materials and technological resources, bridging research and healthcare.
Furthermore, they provide specific recommendations to prioritize thirteen research areas and offer suggestions as to how to strengthen patients´empowerment, improve specialist education, and decrease present inequalities in cancer research within the EU.
Bringing together all relevant stakeholders of the cancer research-prevention-care continuum to speak with a single voice, provide recommendations on careful planning, and inform policy is a pivotal first step towards this ambitious goal. It will require commitment of policy makers and harmonization of EU and national priorities to secure the sustainability of the cross-border infrastructures and research networks. Only then, it will be possible to bridge the gaps in science, society and policy, and effectively sustain cancer prevention, treatment, and care across Europe.
Berns, A., Ringborg, U., Celis, J.E., Heitor, M., Aaronson, N.K., Abou‐Zeid, N., Adami, H.‐O., Apostolidis, K., Baumann, M., Bardelli, A., Bernards, R., Brandberg, Y., Caldas, C., Calvo, F., Dive, C., Eggert, A., Eggermont, A., Espina, C., Falkenburg, F., Foucaud, J., Hanahan, D., Helbig, U., Jönsson, B., Kalager, M., Karjalainen, S., Kásler, M., Kearns, P., Kärre, K., Lacombe, D., de Lorenzo, F., Meunier, F., Nettekoven, G., Oberst, S., Nagy, P., Philip, T., Price, R., Schüz, J., Solary, E., Strang, P., Tabernero, J. and Voest, E. (2020), Towards a cancer mission in Horizon Europe: recommendations. Mol Oncol, 14: 1589-1615. doi:10.1002/1878-0261.12763