12 Points for a High Impact Beating Cancer Plan

A checklist for an ambitious, unifying and change-making Plan

Developed in discussion and agreement with members of the European Cancer Organisation and its Patient Advisory Committee, the following 12 points are intended to provide a checklist to ensure that Europe's Beating Cancer Plan meets the needs identified by the stakeholder community.

1. Set Ambitious Goals to Inspire & Galvanise

In any arena of life, setting goals can push things forward. In healthcare and other policy areas, targets  help to break down barriers between political groupings, government agencies, professions, other stakeholders and interest groups as all work towards a shared aim. Clear goals energise and make actions measurable with respect to the impact being achieved.

Potential goals suggested by the European Cancer Organisation include:

  • the European Cancer Concord’s recommendation of achieving 70% long-term survival for patients with cancer by 2035;
  • doubling survival for intermediate and poor prognosis tumours; and,
  • the 2019 European Cancer Summit resolution for the EU to eliminate HPV caused cancers as a public health problem.

 

2. Ensure ALL Stakeholders are Involved

The full cancer community across Europe should be engaged in the design and implementation of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. This will assist to ‘get things right first time’ through testing of proposals, and avoid reinventing of the wheel.

 

3. Focus on the Quality of Cancer Care

The quality of cancer care that patients receive matters. The management of cancer care is complex. To achieve the best results for the patient, coordination and cooperation between disciplines is essential. Each profession brings unique skillsets and insights to the decision-making process on individualised patient treatment. It is multidisciplinarity and multiprofessionalism that ensures such teamwork occurs.

To help advance the development of this agenda, the European Cancer Organisation recommends that the Beating Cancer Plan include a ‘European Cancer Dashboard’ that monitors and reports on the levels of access being achieved in countries on matters such as access to screening, medicines, radiation therapy, oncology surgery, supportive care, pathology, imaging, specialist cancer nursing, oncology pharmacy, interventional radiology, nuclear medicine, palliative care, and psycho-oncology.

 

4. Take Action to Improve Survivorship and Quality of Life

The European Cancer Organisation warmly supports the intention of a ‘quality of life’ section to Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, encompassing attention to cancer survivor issues.

We recommend that the Beating Cancer Plan include ambitions to achieve ‘the right to be forgotten’ for cancer survivors in all countries. Designed as a means to prevent discrimination in access to mortgages, loans, and insurance, ‘the right to be forgotten’ means cancer survivors not needing to declare their cancer 10 years after the end of the active treatment and 5 years if they had cancer under 18 where financial services are concerned. This is in line with legislation already in place in France and Belgium.

We also recommend attention to cancer patient’s right to access supportive care, including but not limited to, pain management, psycho-social support, sexual counseling, palliative care, and occupational therapy rehabilitation.

Members of the European Cancer Organisation have been leading international initiatives in areas such as Survivorship Care Planning and ‘Survivorship Passports’,  important reference points for the Beating Cancer Plan's survivorship content.

 

5. Achieve Better Integration of Primary Care into the Cancer Care Pathway

There is a growing recognition of the depth and value of the roles primary care healthcare professions can provide in advancing the quality of cancer care and outcomes for patients. This includes areas such as prevention, early diagnosis, management of co-morbidities, and long-term follow up care.

Ways in which the Beating Cancer Plan could support the elevation of primary care roles in the cancer care pathway include by:

  • Encouraging all national cancer plans in Europe to contain ambitious measurable goals and actions to improve the integration of primary care healthcare professionals and informal carers within multidisciplinary care to patients; and,
  • Reporting on the extent to which primary care is integrated into the delivery of cancer care in European health systems within health system monitoring exercises such as the ‘State of Health in the EU’, ‘Health at a Glance’ and the European Cancer Information System (ECIS).

 

 6. Address Inequalities

Levels of health inequality between countries and regions in respect to cancer prevention, control, access to treatment, and survival are both wide and varied. The situation is particularly challenging in Eastern Europe, with survival for many cancers below the European average. Inequalities also occur between social groups, between regions within countries, and between patient cohorts e.g. by age.

Recommendations made by the European Cancer Organisation in this respect include:

  • Setting significant and ambitious European-wide goals for the Beating Cancer Plan that will drive actions towards reducing health inequalities;
  • Creating a European Cancer Dashboard to monitor and report on inequalities; and,
  • Developing further on the excellent foundations created by the European Reference Networks.

 

 7. Support Healthcare Professional Education & Mobility

Recommendations by the European Cancer Organisation on healthcare professional education and mobility include:

  • stimulating recognition of professions and harmonisation of specialist oncology professional training at the European level;
  • promoting multiprofessional team working in cancer care, including via use of the proposed European Cancer Dashboard for monitoring progress on achieving patient access to all relevant professions;
  • facilitating timely national and international action on workforce shortage

 

8. Improve Data Use and the Evidence Environment in European Cancer Care

Recommendations for the Beating Cancer Plan on improving data use and the evidence environment include:

  • Further elevating cooperation between cancer registries in the EU;
  • Resolving barriers to research invoked by GDPR; and,
  • Embracing Treatment Optimisation as an agenda at the EU level.

 

9. Be Courageous on Primary Prevention

On cancer prevention, the Beating Cancer Plan should include:

  • Sustained investment in health literacy efforts at the European level, including long term commitment to the promotion of the European Code Against Cancer;
  • Stronger tobacco control legislation at the European level, including with respect to novel tobacco and nicotine products;
  • Enhancing Europe’s approach to food and alcohol labelling to help consumers make healthier life choices;
  • Evaluation of approach in respect to European regulation of artificial tanning devices (‘sunbeds’); and,
  • Embracing the WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy by seeking the elimination of HPV caused cancers in the EU, including through gender-neutral vaccination programmes.

 

10. Increase Health Literacy

The Beating Cancer Plan should:

  • Include specific funded actions to help improve public understanding of early warning signs of cancer, taking the European Code Against Cancer initiative as inspiration;
  • Link with DG Connect in initiatives to improve citizens digital health literacy with respect to cancer;
  • Seek to increase patient understanding of their rights when it comes to cancer treatment;
  • Help public health overcome the damaging impact of fake news on matters such as vaccination and cancer causation.

 

11. Assist Early Detection Including by Updating EU Screening Recommendations

Recommendations for the Cancer Plan in respect to cancer screening include:
- Strengthening screening coverage targets
- Going further in ensuring best practice implementation
- Bringing about an update to the 2003 EU Council Recommendations on screening
- Accelerating uptake of new diagnostic technologies

 

12. Improve Access to Outcome-Improving Innovation

Means by which Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan can advance more equitable access include by:

  • Continuing to progress Health Technology Assessment (HTA) cooperation between EU Member States;
  • Better harnessing the power of data collection and analysis at European level for understanding the real world impact of new treatments, including via greater harmonisation of cancer registry initiatives;
  • Adopting the recommendations of the EORTC Treatment Optimisation Manifesto;
  • Clarifying and communicating the ability of EU structural funds to be deployed for certain kinds of health system investment related to cancer (e.g. radiotherapy/radiosurgery); and,
  • Providing Innovative Health Initiative, Health Programme and Horizon Programme funding to support real world data, outcomes research, healthcare spending efficiency, and value based healthcare related projects