On the occasion of World Cancer Day 2024, to give substance to the ‘close the care gap” campaign, ESMO has unveiled its own Manifesto for a healthier Europe: ESMO's evidence-based approach to optimise the Beating Cancer Plan.
“With the Manifesto, we express our commitment to support European institutions as well as national decision-makers when developing, implementing and monitoring policies to effectively tackle the scourge of cancer and achieve optimal cancer care for all,” ESMO President Andrés Cervantes stated.
“We are equipped with the scientific evidence needed to inform decisions, and also with the practical evidence that comes from the feedback of all our members working on the ground,” Cervantes stressed.
The Manifesto outlines 5 areas of intervention identified as crucial for the success of the EU BECA Plan, always keeping the patients -and their rights- at the centre.
“With cancer cases projected to increase by 20% by 2040 and with over 12 million cancer survivors in Europe, as patient advocates we are proud to be a driving force of ESMO’s efforts,” said Tanja Spanic, Chair of the ESMO Patient Advocates Working Group. “The evidence that comes out as a ‘product’ of the unique patient-oncologist partnership will be critical to ensure that the Beating Cancer Plan delivers on its promises.”
In anticipation of the tsunami of new cancer cases (5.32 million in 2040) and in consideration of the fact that up to 50% of all cancers are preventable, ESMO urges for a swift and decisive reaction to reduce air pollution, exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens; to mitigate behaviours that increase cancer risks such as use of e-cigarettes and sunbeds, unhealthy dietary patterns, alcohol; obstacles and hesitancy to vaccination against preventable cancers.
ESMO stresses the urgency to develop criteria for the correct definition of ‘unmet medical needs’, which affects so-called orphan medicines and can make a difference in improving access to innovative cost-effective treatments to ensure that medicines are accessible, affordable and available for all patients, including those with rare or ultra-rare cancers.
Prioritising cancer within the 10th EU framework programme (FP10), focussing on the causes of cancer, incentivising a personalised approach to cancer treatment and boosting the use of AI to support clinical decision-making, are key drivers for the development of innovative cancer medicines.
The EU BECA Plan will not see the light of day without a workforce fit for purpose –educated, trained and in sufficient numbers to face the challenges accompanying them. The increase of EU funding for programmes for professional development and the work-related psychosocial risks are the two major areas to urgently work on with the EU institutions.
Escalating challenges deriving from staff shortages, oncologists’ wellbeing and work-life balance are impacting oncologists’ ability to deliver the highest possible standards of care. These challenges become even harder to face in a context of repeated crises, induced by natural disasters, conflicts, pandemics.
Continuous care in times of crisis must consider provisions for sustainable cancer care services as integral to any plan for pandemic and emergency preparedness.
“We unite to advocate for the highest possible levels of cancer care to be accessible in Europe and around the world,” added the ESMO President. “While ESMO’s work impacts on doctors and patients across the world, our European roots and expertise in medical oncology provide us with a unique opportunity, with the Manifesto, to offer valuable guidance in shaping related EU legislation and policies and ensure that their implementation reflects the evolving priorities of our own members and of the entire oncology community,” Cervantes concluded.
Learn more about ESMO's support to World Cancer Day (WCD) and its #CloseTheCareGap campaign.