Brussels, Belgium – On 26th April 2023, the PREFERABLE-II project held a one-hour event at the EU Parliament to discuss the implementation of personalised live-remote exercise-oncology for improvement of supportive care. The launch event aimed to present the project and its research goals to policy makers and was attended by medical professionals, research specialists, patient associations, and policy-makers.

Survivorship care is a key component of the EU Beating Cancer Plan that proposes concrete measures to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors, including through the promotion of physical activity.  Despite these promising initiatives, not all cancer survivors living in Europe have access to physical activity programmes.

The PREFERABLE-II project aims to improve supportive care strategies for cancer survivors significantly by investigating (cost-) effectiveness of personalised live-remote exercise training applicable to all survivors who are unable to join or who do not have the opportunity to join on-site supervised training, thereby increasing health equity in supportive care. As such, the project consortium of partners led by UMC Utrecht set out to contribute to the implementation of the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and improve the well-being and health-related quality of life of the over 12 million cancer survivors in the EU.

The event chaired by MEP Cristian-Silviu Buşoi (EPP, Romania), chair of the Challenge Cancer Parliamentary Intergroup, began with an overview of the PREFERABLE-II project and its relevance in policy making, followed by the current policy status and challenges of implementing personalised oncology at the national level, and a discussion between medical oncologists, oncology researchers, patient associations and policy makers in Europe.

In his welcome note, Mr. Buşoi acknowledged the importance of personalized live-remote exercise-oncology to improve patient outcomes, saying that “I see the added value of the PREFERABLE-II project for the cancer patient’s community and the society at large. European Union aspires with high ambitions and a strong leadership via its future programs and developments, EU4Health Programme and Horizon Europe included. EU Parliament acknowledges the strong value of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the new EU approach to tackle the entire disease pathway, from prevention to quality of life of cancer patients and survivors. The activities within EU Challenge Cancer Parliamentary Intergroup has unique potential to cooperate with patients’ initiatives, their families, and stakeholders, establishing a proper forum to discuss their specific needs and priorities to achieve a good quality of life after beating cancer.  I would like to express my support to this initiative, we clearly need tailored programs as the project is targeting on”.

Dr. Ioannis Vouldis from the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA) presented the EU programmes implemented by the Agency, highlighting the investments dedicated to health: “The Horizon Europe research and innovation programme is an evolution not a revolution, as it continues to build on the previous Horizon 2020 programme. Under Horizon Europe, EU Missions are a key novelty, aiming to address some of the greatest challenges in our society. The goal of the EU Mission on Cancer is to improve the lives of more than 3 million people by 2030. This will be done through actions in the fields of prevention, treatment and support to those affected by cancer, including their families. Forming clusters of EU projects that share synergies among themselves, such as those focused on cancer, is a priority.”

Prof. Dr. Anne May, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology of Cancer Survivorship from the University Medical Centre Utrecht, the PREFERABLE-II project leader, stated “there is strong evidence that exercise decreases feelings of anxiety, depression and fatigue and improves physical functioning and quality of life of patients during and after cancer treatment; however, not all patients in Europe and beyond have access to exercise. PREFERABLE-II will investigate live-remote exercise to provide an easy-accessible and scalable exercise possibility. Through our common initiative and comprehensive research, we support the patients, policy initiatives and future scientific development.”

“When we talk about cancer, we are not talking about one disease, but about many, different from each other in many ways. As one can easily perceive the disease itself, the stage at which it is diagnosed, the type of cancer, its eventual spread, the patient’s possible comorbidities, the type of treatment and obviously the different physical symptoms that the patients have, determine to a large extent the progression of the condition and the actual ability of exercise. After my diagnosis, I was advised to exercise. The possibility of an online program was the solution for my conditions to be able to exercise on a regular basis and I have highly benefited from it. In my experience, live remote exercise programs involve family and community in efforts to improve patient health. “explained patient representative – Maroussa Protopapadaki, from the Hellenic Cancer Federation and Association of Women with Breast Cancer in Greece.

The event was well-attended, with attendees from across Europe and beyond, joining in person and virtually. It provided a valuable opportunity for stakeholders to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities of personalised live-remote exercise-oncology medicine in cancer treatment.

The PREFERABLE-II project is a five-year EU project, and stakeholders are encouraged to follow its progress by signing up for the newsletter or following the project on social media.

Contact: PREFERABLE-II Project