On Tuesday 10th November, ECPC Member Lung Cancer Europe – LuCE, organised an event at the European Parliament to raise awareness of the innovative strategies to fight against lung cancer in Europe.
The event was jointly hosted by MEP Philippe De Backer (ALDE, Belgium) and MEP Cristian Busoi (EPP, Romania), with the collaboration of MEP Jytte Guteland (S&D, Sweden).
Lung cancer: close to 500,000 cases per year in Europe
With 449 000 new cases per year, lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Europe.
Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Europe and it remains the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, with 353 000 deaths every year in Europe alone, accounting for approximately 20% of total cancer deaths.
The European Union has taken important steps in the fight against lung cancer, e.g. the Tobacco Products Directive and the legislation on air pollution. However, the participants considered that more action is needed when confronted with such a heart-breaking human drama.
Significant improvements in treatment, particularly due to personalised medicine and immunotherapy
Outcomes for patients with lung cancer remain poor compared to other forms of cancer (seven out of eight patients die within 5 years of diagnosis). However, recent important advances in surgical techniques, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for lung cancer and promising new targeted therapies have transformed potential outcomes for lung cancer patients for the first time in 20 years. Most notably, improved understanding of the molecular diversity of lung cancer has opened new avenues for treatment. In particular, personalised medicine and immunotherapy are holding a promising role in the treatment of lung cancer, offering patients longer survival as well as improved quality of life. As a result, molecular testing is now becoming an important part of the diagnostic process for lung cancer, as treatment choices are tailored to the genetic makeup of each patient’s cancer. Read more about the ground-breaking results in immunotherapy in lung cancer here (presentation of Prof. Vansteenkiste).
Persisting inequities in access to diagnosis testing and care
Unfortunately, not all patients are able to benefit from these innovative treatments. Significant inequalities exist in patients’ access to genetic and molecular testing as well as innovative treatments, both within and across European countries. These inequalities are caused by a number of factors, including: differences in oncology guidelines and protocols for diagnosis and treatment, delays in access to medicines, the high cost of these treatments and fragmented health systems. In her presentation, Prof. Tanja Cufer pointed out an interesting point regarding scrutinising cost of cancer care ”on average only 10% of health spending is allocated to cancer care, yet it is the world’s biggest killer”. She advocated towards optimal use of resources, making an example of colorectal cancer, how cure rates can almost double for similar annual per-capita expenditure on health.
The event, co-organised with ECPC, also featured the launch of the Immuno-Oncology Portal, Europe’s first patient-led, scientifically validated online learning platform on cancer immunotherapy and immune-oncology. The Portal offers European cancer patients clear information to help them understand how cancer immunotherapies work, and what role immunotherapy and immuno-oncology treatments may play in treating their cancer. To find out more about the Immuno-Oncology Portal, click here.
- Michelle Warren, lung cancer survivor
- Prof. António M. F. Araújo, Centro Hospitalar do Porto, Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto, Portugal
- Prof Gordon McVie, European Institute of Oncology in Milan, European Alliance for Personalised Medicine
- Prof. Johan Vansteenkiste, Uz Leuven
- Prof. Tanja Cufer, Professor of Oncology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Dr. Vladimir Lazar, WIN Consortium, Paris, France (www.winconsortium.org)
- Dr. Stefan Rauh, ESMO Board member