UICC CONGRESS OCTOBER 18-20 October, Geneva, Switzerland

On the opening day of the UICC’s World Cancer Congress 2022, ECPC hosted an informative session titled “Precision Oncology and Biomarkers: Opening New Therapeutic Avenues for Cancer Patients”. The concept of biomarkers in precision oncology, as an emerging standard of care, was the prominent topic in this session. The expert panel, comprised of patient advocates, scientific, clinical, and pharmaceutical professionals, highlighted the close relationship οf precision oncology and biomarkers and how biomarker knowledge by both physicians and patients translates into benefit for cancer patients., The inclusion of biomarkers in the clinical practice meets still several barriers in EU member states, adding a new inequality in cancer care. This highly informative session also witnessed a large and active involvement from a full room audience of global attendees, including experts, stakeholders, global scholars, NGOs and policymakers. 

The session was moderated by Francesco de Lorenzo, ECPC President, and the expert panelists included  Dr. Nicola Normanno, IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori Fondazione G Pascale (Italy) and President of the International Quality Network for Pathology (IQNPath), Nicolas Philippou, CEO of PASYKAF – Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends (Cyprus) and Dr. Aliki Stathopoulou, European Cancer Patient Coalition (Belgium). The session concluded with a strong key message, emphasizing the significance of coordinated efforts on both European and national levels from all relevant stakeholders to improve biomarker access and quality, in addition to the fact that better and wider payoffs in cancer care can only be achieved through unified and collaborative approaches in cancer care.

The UICC’s World Cancer Congress 2022 kicked off on, October 18, at the International Conference Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, and run through October 20. The three-day global congress on cancer was driven by the theme, “Committed to global collaboration and knowledge sharing to accelerate progress in cancer control”.  The first day of congress had an outstanding engagement of global stakeholders and brought them altogether on a unified platform with the aim to enhance contribution towards cancer control and prevention.

At this important event, the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC)  was one of the most influential patient organizations, with a strong and unified voice to advocate for access to precision oncology for cancer patients in Europe and beyond. ECPC’s active leadership and engagement in EU cancer policy has inspired global stakeholders to embrace more sustainable approaches to meeting unmet needs of cancer patients and  to cater to them with care in an equitable manner.

Stronger and sustainable regulatory and reimbursement measures should be adapted to the specificities of new technologies, allowing the parallel approval and reimbursement of new therapies and biomarkers facilitating patient access to treatments that can be beneficial for them, commented Francesco de Lorenzo, ECPC President.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Normanno described the current and future scenario of precision oncology. An increasing number of precision medicines requiring biomarker testing is being approved by regulatory agencies. Over 25% of patients with advanced cancer can receive today a biomarker associated therapy. However, the access to precision medicines in Europe is hampered by the limited availability of biomarker testing in several European countries, as highlighted in the results of the European survey of IQN Path, ECPC and EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) recently published in the European Journal of Cancer. Lack of infrastructures and organization, delayed approval of reimbursement for new tests, limited budget for biomarker testing and low participation in external quality assessment schemes and ISO accreditation rate were the most frequent barriers to availability of high-quality biomarker testing in Europe.