Why it matters

Each year, over 3 million people are diagnosed with cancer in Europe. We need governments to ensure the means to identify people who may benefit from more effective, targeted cancer treatment, and avoid treatment-related toxicity where possible, all whilst helping to ensure the sustainability of our healthcare systems. One such way to address this is with cancer molecular testing and personalised medicine, a targeted approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

For instance, cancer biomarkers are molecules that are usually produced by cancer cells, which can then be detected in bodily tissues or fluids. They can be patient-specific, rather than tumour-specific, which means they can help identify people who have cancer or who are at risk of developing cancer and help to select or predict those people who are likely to derive therapeutic benefit from specific treatments. Awareness about cancer molecular testing remains low – only 23% of European doctors feel that their patients are always fully informed about molecular or biomarker testing. The use of cancer molecular testing in Europe also varies by country, because in many countries diagnostic tests are not integrated into clinical practice and are not reimbursed or available to all people with cancer. This needs to change.

“I am alive against all odds. I was told I would die”

Barbara, Colorectal cancer survivor

What ECPC adds

ECPC works in partnership with leading organisations in this field, such as the Cancer Drug Development Forum, the European Alliance of Personalised Medicine – of which ECPC is a founding member, and the International Quality Network of Pathology, to ensure patients have a central role in policy developments concerning personalised medicine. A joint Patient Survey in 2016 revealed very low awareness about cancer molecular testing and biomarkers. Therefore, ECPC undertook a strong role in patient education, with the launch of the infographic and video animation on biomarkers, and the launch of the first Personalised Medicine Awareness Month.

ECPC works to raise awareness amongst policy-makers at the EU level about the need for harmonised regulatory frameworks and policies to create enabling environments for access to personalised medicine across Europe. ECPC has organised policy events in the European Parliament in partnership with CDDF on biomarkers and the role of Health Technology Assessment, and hosts a patient track every year at the EAPM Annual Congress.