Why it matters for patients
Head and neck cancers are among the most common cancer types in Europe, with more than 150 000 new patients diagnosed each year. Despite being the 7th most common cancer worldwide, and each individual tumour being classified as a rare cancer, there is little awareness of this, with patient outcomes remaining poor for those diagnosed in the later stages. However, for those diagnosed in the early stage, there is an 80-90% survival rate. The Make Sense Campaign aims to raise awareness of head and neck cancer and ultimately improve the outcomes for patients with the disease. In order to achieve this, there needs to be more education surrounding the disease, earlier diagnosis and referral, and an overall improvement in the care of patients. The challenge is to communicate the complexities of head and neck cancers in a space where other cancers have wider recognition and understanding, ensuring better chances of survival.
“Overcoming head and neck cancer is a unique experience; different for each person. However, the goal is the same for all patients: to regain the important aspects of their lives before cancer and find new pathways to a normal and fulfilling life.”Lieve Wierinck – Member of the European Parliament 2016–2019
What ECPC adds
In partnership with the European Head and Neck Society (EHNS), a multidisciplinary platform aiming to promote the exchange of research and knowledge, we developed a White Paper, essentially a report describing a problem and a possible solution, regarding the state of head and neck cancer in Europe, organised debates within the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament and launched the Supporting Survivorship theme and report at the European Parliament, hosted by MEP Lieve Wierinck. The aim of this was to inform stakeholders of how they can benefit from new survivorship guidelines for patients. Through pioneering healthcare professionals, the campaign addresses not only the needs of patients and the lack of awareness, but also emotive support for patients, survivors and caregivers and aims to build partnerships with governmental bodies and patient organisations that can help us to spread the word.
The ultimate aim is to ensure better outcomes for patients, such as improving job opportunities and tackling unfair treatment from insurance companies and increased insurance premiums. We are also proud to support the Making Meals Make Sense Cookbook developed as part of this campaign. Recognising the challenges and sharing personal experiences, this has been created by survivors of head and neck cancer who, through sharing their recipe and cooking tips, aim to guide and help others going through treatment. This is where fellow patients and survivors can share their real experiences and challenges faced, including the physical and psychological difficulties, as well as their own top tips on how to overcome these. Everyone has their own unique experiences and we invite you to share them. It could have a positive impact on someone else’s journey!