EU Needs a New Lung Cancer Strategy

CIO Review Europe | Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Health experts and clinicians highlighted the need for urgent changes to lung cancer services across Europe to create a more cohesive and equal approach to care.

FREMONT, CA: In Europe, lung cancer is a major cause of cancer-related deaths. However, diagnosis, treatment, and access to care differ from country to country, and sometimes even within the same country's regions. Health experts and physicians spoke out during a webinar hosted by The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) about the urgent need for improvements to lung cancer services across Europe to develop a more unified and egalitarian approach to care. Lung cancer not only accounts for a fifth of all cancer fatalities, but it is also one of the most expensive malignancies in terms of direct and indirect expenses.'Despite substantial breakthroughs in detection, lung cancer survival or prognosis remains relatively poor when compared to other cancers. Early detection and early diagnosis indicate that 68-92 per cent will live for five years, whereas if identified at Stage four, that proportion drops to barely 10 per cent.

Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) has emerged as a useful screening tool in recent years, having been demonstrated in clinical studies and able to shift diagnosis to an earlier stage, resulting in substantial reductions in lung cancer mortality. Despite advancements in treatment and screening, lung cancer remains a serious public health concern. The key risk factor for lung cancer has been determined, with even former smokers demonstrating an elevated risk even after quitting, according to the expert. This is particularly concerning for Europe, which has the greatest smoking incidence in the world, with 29 per cent of persons aged 15 and up using tobacco products. Experts noted that 10 to 25 per cent of lung cancer cases are discovered in people who have never smoked, implying that air pollution or other factors may be at play. Covid-19 has limited access to diagnosis and treatment, which could lead to an increase in lung cancer deaths.

The European Union's Beating Cancer Plan suggests a comprehensive approach to combating cancer in general, encompassing the entire spectrum from prevention to diagnosis and treatment, to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. However, there is no mention of lung cancer, which has been cited by various professional organisations and observers as a major flaw in the publication. The document's major messages include four strategic priorities:

• Increasing public knowledge of lung cancer and reducing the stigma associated with smoking, as well as changing public conceptions of lung cancer as a self-inflicted disease;

• Rapid implementation of LDCT screening to support efforts to quit smoking;

• A targeted approach to reducing access and outcome inequities; and

• Increasing the availability of high-quality multidisciplinary lung cancer care and eliminating access inequities within and between nations.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Portugal and co-chair of the MEP Lung Health Group, made a call for increased awareness of all cancers, particularly lung cancer, at the European and regional levels during a Q&A panel discussion following the presentation: A more coordinated and comprehensive strategy at the European level is required when it comes to cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

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