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Experts warn of European cancer epidemic

With an estimated one million cancer diagnoses missed across Europe in the last two years, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is predicted to set back European cancer outcomes by almost a decade.

A new Commission from The Lancet Oncology has highlighted the pivotal importance of cancer research in tackling the unprecedented challenges facing European cancer systems and has made key recommendations for how this can be achieved. The Commission has also identified gaps in the European cancer research landscape and is calling for a doubling of the European cancer research budget, as well as prioritisation of underserved cancer research areas, including prevention and early diagnosis, radiotherapy and surgery, implementation science, action on gender equality, and a deeper focus on survivorship

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed weaknesses in cancer health systems and in the cancer research landscape across Europe, which, if not addressed as a matter of urgency, will have a significant impact on cancer outcomes. In a new report, authors have emphasised that prioritising cancer research is crucial for European countries to deliver more affordable, higher quality, and more equitable cancer care, with patients treated in research-active hospitals having better outcomes than those who are not. 

The new report, European Groundshot – addressing Europe’s cancer research challenges: a Lancet Oncology Commission, brings together a wide range of patient, scientific, and healthcare experts with detailed knowledge of cancer research activity across Europe. Using accurate, timely, and granular data, the report shines a penetrating light on cancer research in Europe, highlighting current and future challenges and identifying gaps within the research landscape. 

The Lancet Oncology Commission echoes the US Cancer Moonshot in setting out ambitious recommendations to develop a successful and resilient cancer research roadmap. However, the Lancet Oncology Commission argues that Europe cancer research should have a more grounded patient-focused, rather than techno-centric, approach and therefore a ‘Cancer Groundshot’ is a more appropriate aim. 

“With the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever that Europe develops a resilient cancer research landscape to play a transformative role in improving prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and quality-of-life for current and future patients and those living beyond cancer,” said Professor Mark Lawler, Queen’s University Belfast, UK and Chair and lead author of the Commission. 

He added: “We estimate that approximately one million cancer diagnoses were missed across Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in a race against time to find those missing cancers. Additionally, we saw a chilling effect on cancer research with laboratories shut down and clinical trials delayed or cancelled in the first pandemic wave. We are concerned that Europe is heading towards a cancer epidemic in the next decade if cancer health systems and cancer research are not urgently prioritised. Our European Groundshot Commission provides crucial findings on the current landscape of cancer research, exposes the key gaps, and demands the prioritisation of European cancer research agendas over the next decade”. 

To view the full report, visit: http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/European-Groundshot-cancer-research 

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Arab Health 2023

Dubai World Trade Centre
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Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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