Cancer is the greatest challenge of humanity. In Europe, it is estimated that 4 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and there will be nearly 2 million deaths due to this disease. Despite remarkable scientific progress, many types of cancer still do not have effective treatment solutions. At the same time, too many preventable cancers are not avoided in all Member States. The European Union has set itself the objective of reducing the incidence of cancer by 15% by 2020, considering that one-third of cancers are preventable. At the same time, an important proportion of the 33% avoidable deaths at the EU level are cancer cases.
The challenge of cancer control is much greater than any other pathology, from the following perspectives:
Disease burden. The rising incidence of the disease, increased rates of mortality and morbidity for many types of cancer, to which adds the stigma related to the disease and classical treatment, such as chemotherapy. In addition, there is fatalism and resignation before the illness - 45% of the Romanians, according to the InoMed-IMAS survey of April 2016, associate the cancer diagnosis with imminent death, in the short term – an aspect likely to decrease the degree of involvement of the patient, family and medical staff in the successful management of the neoplastic disease.
Exponential innovation. Oncology is an area at the forefront of medical research against the background of the decoding of the human genome, unparalleled in other medical areas. The accumulation of information is continuous and often exceeds both the reception capacity of physicians and patients and the ability of the health systems to implement those innovations that bring value to the patient. In oncology, the concepts of disease management sometimes change fundamentally every year, whether we are talking about prevention, screening, precision diagnosis or treatment. For instance, immune-oncology, a concept that was brought again into the spotlight 6 years ago by the spectacular clinical outcomes regarding malignant melanoma, has already changed the therapeutic paradigm in many types of cancer.
2.004 immunotherapies are developing at the moment, in monotherapy or in combinations, and new fundamental changes of the medical practice are expected in the next few years. On the other hand, in 2017, the first cellular gene therapy was approved for the treatment of some types of hematologic cancer, thus opening up a completely new horizon - 244 cell therapies are developing at the moment and it is expected that the number of such therapies approved will grow in the next years. In the field of biomarkers, the evolution is also extremely rapid, and the validation of the biomarkers quickly transforms the way in which a precision diagnosis of cancer is formulated.
Increased costs. The expenses for the control of cancer, amid the rise in innovative treatment solutions, are increasing exponentially, questioning the sustainability of health insurance systems.
In this regard, the large scale use of new technologies (sensors, AI, machine learning, registries, avatars, omics) has the potential to transform the fight against cancer and the way we deliver cancer care to the patients.
In order to achieve the target to decrease cancer incidence by 15% until 2020, but also to set a broader target, the control of cancer in the EU area, the European Union should promote a structured, coordinated and ongoing approach to the issue of cancer, at all levels, considering the control means promoted by the Member States, but also the European institutional mechanisms, using the ICT technologies and “healthy innovation”.
The European Union needs a modern vision (in the short, medium and long term) for cancer control considering that in the USA, in January 2016, the “Cancer Moonshot” was launched, whose objective is “to end cancer as we know it”.
The holding of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2019 give Romania the opportunity to assert its leadership in the fight against cancer. Romania may become the Member State of the European Union which initiated this approach in a structured way, continuing initiatives previously undertaken by:
Organising a high-level Conference on “Value of Data in Oncology” in the the context of Romanian Presidency at the Council of the European Union, The Centre for Innovation in Medicine intend to set the European stage for the next-level digital approach of cancer.
Our Conference is, at the same time, in line with the themes of interest of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union: Europe of convergence (growth, competitiveness, connectivity), Europe of safety, Europe as a global actor, Europe of common values. Also, our Conference follow the interest expresed by European Commisioner for Health Vytenis Andriukaitis: (“We have the tools to achieve considerably more when it comes to cancer. We must continue to research and innovate, to improve treatment, care and quality of life for cancer patients and survivors. So I encourage you to engage in discussions around Horizon Europe – including on future missions and partnerships”) and European Commisioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas (“Horizon Europe is designed to tackle cancer on all sides by supporting more opportunities to fund cancer research. With this, Europe can develop and deploy new technologies and techniques to change the lives of cancer patients”).
The Centre for Innovation in Medicine assume to launch at the Conference a State of the Art public policy document “A new digital-enabled vision for cancer in the EU” who will be developed in cooperation with the Conference partners.