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"EAPM 5th Annual Conference - Innovation and Screening in Lung Cancer - The Future"

28 March, 2017 Bibliotheque Solvay, Brussels

The Alliance’s fifth annual conference, to be held once again at the historic Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels on 28 March, will build on solid foundations and aim to raise awareness among policymakers about the needs of modern-day patients and how personalised medicine has the potential to change healthcare for the better.

The theme for the fifth conference will be: “Innovation and Screening in Lung Cancer.”

High-level speakers and attendees will come from a wide range of stakeholder groups including patients, healthcare professionals, academics, industry representatives, politicians and legislators, the media and more.

The conference will be held across one full day, and the aim is to see real and concrete recommendations emerge.

 

 
Needs and aims

Modern medicine is advancing swiftly and there are many areas trying to play catch up. With the giant leaps in gene sequencing, imaging, data availability and more, a genuine improvement in cooperation is required across all disciplines and all geographical areas.

Much can be achieved with consensus-based guidelines to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of acceptable standards and are effectively all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

There is clearly a need to:

  • Raise awareness of the need for agreed guidelines over lung-cancer screening
  • Improve the knowledge of policymakers and world health agencies so that effective lung-cancer screening guidelines and policies can be formulated on the international stage
  • Work across national borders to ensure cooperation and collaboration in respect of much-needed guidelines in the fast-developing field of personalised medicine
  • Advance parallel work done by professional groups, patient groups, healthcare funders, pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions to a new level
Speakers and sessions

Topics covered in the sessions will include:

  • Screening and the Innovation Agenda: An Integrated Approach 
  • Screening Programmes: A Call to Action from the Patients 
  • The promise of national screening programmes 
  • Generating alignment in the area of diagnosis: Development of Guidelines 
  • The Role of ICT& Science to Support Policymakers 
  • Enabling Quality through Screening: Next Steps 

These sessions will also reflect perspectives from Member States and European bodies, including the Parliament and European Commission. Key speakers are set to include Christoph Fearne, Maltese Minister of Health, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stefania Vallone, of LUCE (Lung Cancer Europe), Professor John Field, of the University of Liverpool, and MEP Giovanni La Via, ENVI Chair, European Parliament.

Background

When it comes to lung cancer, Europe is looking at risk prediction models to identify patients for screening, plus a determination of how many annual screening rounds is enough.

This is not before time. Around one billion people on the planet are regular smokers. And lung cancer is one of the biggest killers. We all now know that there is a direct connection in many cases. Non-smokers do get lung cancer, but the risks if you are a smoker are significantly higher.

Undoubtedly, tobacco smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer, although passive smoking, and a family history of lung, head and neck cancer are, among other factors, also important.

Figures show that lung cancer causes almost 1.4 million deaths each year worldwide, representing almost one-fifth of all cancer deaths. Within the EU, meanwhile, lung cancer is also the biggest killer of all cancers, responsible for almost 270,000 annual deaths (some 21%).

It is at the very least surprising that the biggest cancer killer of all does not have a solid set of screening guidelines across Europe. Doctors need to quickly identify high quality, trustworthy clinical practice guidelines, in order to improve decision making for the benefit of their patients.

The Alliance has turned its attention to need for more guidelines in screening for lung cancer. There is a need for agreement and coordination across the European Union’s 28 Member States.

Europe does not have a brilliant record when it comes to implementing screening. As long ago as December 2003, EU health ministers unanimously adopted a Recommendation on cancer screening, which acknowledged both the significance of the burden of cancer and the evidence for effectiveness of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening in reducing the burden of disease.

This Council Recommendation outlined “fundamental principles of best practice in early detection of cancer” while inviting Member States to take common action to implement national cancer screening programmes with a population-based approach and with appropriate quality assurance at all levels. 

At that point, EU guidelines updated and expanded for breast and cervical cancer screening had already been published by the Commission; while comprehensive European guidelines for quality assurance of colorectal cancer screening were, at the time, being prepared.

Thirteen years on and incidence and mortality rates of cancers still vary widely across the EU, reflecting a major health burden in various Member States, often splitting large and smaller countries along with richer and poorer nations. In fact, only six countries have implemented ALL recommended programmes even now in 2016.

This cannot be allowed to happen with the biggest killer of all and all sessions will reflect this.

Expected conclusions

Findings in both Europe and the US strongly suggest that lung cancer screening works. Current evidence is, as yet, limited and the discussion continues.

But there is hard evidence, although debate continues about the best way to implement screening of this kind, and even how to properly evaluate ‘cost effectiveness’ - who should decide?

Of course, guidelines could help to tether costs, by bringing in improvements to the efficiency of screening methodologies and, thus, programmes themselves.

Key to such a situation would be making the best use of efficient risk-assessment methods, top-of-the-range imaging technology, and guidelines that encourage the minimisation of invasive procedures and risk to the patient.

EAPM believes that the EU should put guidelines in place that will allow Member States to set-up quality assured early detection programmes for lung cancer, and that there is a need for increased public-private partnerships, such as IMI II. The conference is expected to endorse this view.

 

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