Strategic Communication and Public Relations

Joining efforts for better cancer care in Europe

No. 51 | 03/09/2020 | by Koh

Rising cancer incidence rates pose major challenges for Europe's healthcare systems. What can be done to improve cancer care in Europe? How can we ensure that people in all EU countries have equal access to innovative cancer medicine? What have we learned from the COVID-19 crisis to ensure the care of cancer patients during possible future pandemics? These questions were discussed by patients, politicians, scientists and physicians at the international expert meeting "Improving Cancer Care in Europe" organized by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) and the German Federal Ministry of Health in Heidelberg on September 3.

At the opening of the conference „Improving Cancer Care in Europe“ from left to right: Ursula Weyrich, Administrative Director of the DKFZ, Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Dr. António Lacerda Sales, State Secretary in the Portuguese Ministry of Health, Prof. Dr. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the Management Board of the DKFZ, Dr. Thomas Gebhart, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health
© Uwe Anspach/DKFZ

In 2020, an estimated 2.7 million EU citizens will develop cancer and 1.2 million will die of the disease. Around twelve million people in Europe are already living with or after cancer. Up to one third of the total European population must expect to develop a malignant tumor during their lifetime. Demographic change is contributing to a further increase in incidence rates, which poses major challenges for Europe's healthcare systems.

This is why cancer is one of the priority topics during the German EU Council Presidency in 2020. The German Cancer Research Center, together with the German Federal Ministry of Health, organized an international expert meeting on September 3 to discuss how improvements in the care of cancer patients throughout Europe can be achieved.

The Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Thomas Gebhart: "Over 2.7 million Europeans are diagnosed with cancer every year. This means 2.7 million people who need the best possible diagnosis and therapy. Here, the availability of treatment data plays an important role. We will use Germany's Presidency of the Council of the European Union to lay the groundwork for a European Health Data Space. EU-wide access to and exchange of data, in line with our regulations, would facilitate research and improve healthcare for EU citizens. In Europe, we must stand shoulder to shoulder against cancer."

The conference was also attended by representatives of the two partner countries of the current EU trio presidency, Portugal and Slovenia. António Lacerda Sales, State Secretary in the Portuguese Ministry of Health, pointed out: "Today, unfortunately, there are still differences between the individual EU countries in the care of cancer patients. Our goal is to achieve justice and solidarity in Europe. We are committed to ensuring that people in all EU countries have equal access to innovative diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Sustainable research networks and European partnership models are an important step towards establishing uniform standards of care for cancer patients throughout Europe."

Cancer is an extremely heterogeneous disease; even the same type of cancer varies from patient to patient. This makes research projects or clinical studies to test new treatment approaches increasingly difficult, since very few patients share identical tumor characteristics. "It is therefore important that we promote and coordinate the exchange of medical and scientific data across European borders," was the message of Slovenian Health Minister Tomaž Gantar had sent to the conference, adding "European cooperation in pediatric oncology is an impressive demonstration of what we can achieve for children with cancer by sharing data and knowledge."

Gantar thus referred to the European register study INFORM, which aims to open up new treatment options for children who have relapsed after an initially successful cancer therapy. Eleven European countries, including Slovenia, are already working together in this study initiated in Heidelberg. Gantar also emphasizes that although we are all under the enormous pressure of the current COVID-19 pandemic we should innovate and adapt our health systems to be more robust and better respond not only to health crises, but also to the "pandemic" of cancer and other noncommunicable diseases. With the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, we will result in better cancer prevention and care for all EU citizens.

"The European Commission shows great commitment in the fight against cancer. This is demonstrated, among others, by the European Beating Cancer Plan, which is due to be adopted in autumn," said Professor Dr. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the Board of the DKFZ. "Together with patient representatives, the European Academy of Cancer Sciences EACS has developed recommendations to support the Commission in this ambitious and important project. The German Cancer Research Center fully welcomes this initiative of the European Commission: In order to achieve tangible success in the fight against the widespread disease cancer, Europe must join forces - in research as well as in the development of innovative cooperative structures for patient care."

A picture of the conference is available for download
www.dkfz.de/de/presse/pressemitteilungen/2020/bilder/_A1_3559.jpg 

Caption: At the opening of the conference „Improving Cancer Care in Europe" from left to right: Ursula Weyrich, Administrative Director of the DKFZ, Thomas Rachel, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Dr. António Lacerda Sales, State Secretary in the Portuguese Ministry of Health, Prof. Dr. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the Board of the DKFZ, Dr. Thomas Gebhart, Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Healthv.l.n.r.: Ursula Weyrich, Kaufmännischer Vorstand des DKFZ, Thomas Rachel, Parl. Staatssekretär im Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, Dr. António Lacerda Sales, Staatsekretär im portugiesischen Gesundheitsministerium, Prof. Dr. Michael Baumann, Vorstandsvorsitzender des DKFZ, Dr. Thomas Gebhart, Parl. Staatsekretär im Bundesgesundheitsministerium

Note on use of images related to press releases
Use is free of charge. The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) permits one-time use in the context of reporting about the topic covered in the press release. Images have to be cited as follows: "Source: Uwe Anspach /DKFZ".
Distribution of images to third parties is not permitted unless prior consent has been obtained from DKFZ's Press Office (phone: ++49-(0)6221 42 2854, E-mail: presse@dkfz.de). Any commercial use is prohibited.

A video recording of the conference will be available soon at
www.dkfz.de/EU2020-Event 

 

The German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) with its more than 3,000 employees is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. More than 1,300 scientists at the DKFZ investigate how cancer develops, identify cancer risk factors and search for new strategies to prevent people from developing cancer. They are developing new methods to diagnose tumors more precisely and treat cancer patients more successfully. The DKFZ's Cancer Information Service (KID) provides patients, interested citizens and experts with individual answers to all questions on cancer.

Jointly with partners from the university hospitals, the DKFZ operates the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg and Dresden, and the Hopp Children's Tumour Center KiTZ in Heidelberg. In the German Consortium for Translational Cancer Research (DKTK), one of the six German Centers for Health Research, the DKFZ maintains translational centers at seven university partner locations. NCT and DKTK sites combine excellent university medicine with the high-profile research of the DKFZ. They contribute to the endeavor of transferring promising approaches from cancer research to the clinic and thus improving the chances of cancer patients.

The DKFZ is 90 percent financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and 10 percent by the state of Baden-Württemberg. The DKFZ is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers.

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