14 November 2023

In October 2023, Eleanor Wheeler was pleased to attend the FOKUS Patient Cancer Forum in Stockholm representing the Lung Cancer Policy Network. This three-day event covered person-centred care and key topics aligned to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

We were delighted to present about the Network and our recent activities, along with discussing the opportunities that the updated EU screening recommendation holds for lung cancer. Lung cancer screening provides a significant opportunity to move detection from its current late detection to earlier stages, where treatments are more effective. Turning the EU screening recommendation into lung cancer screening implementation action is vital.

In this blog we reflect on some of the main messages we heard from the fantastic presentations and discussions that took place at the event.

Cancer incidence is predicted to increase significantly

Dr Elisabete Weiderpass, Director of IARC, drew attention to the anticipated global increase in cancer, from 19.3 million cases in 2020 to more than 30 million new cases in 2040. This increase highlights the importance of strong cancer control programmes. The prediction requires all countries to think about how to ensure access to diagnosis and treatment, while also raising important questions about how to improve equity in access and outcomes of care.

Early diagnosis is vital to improve cancer outcomes

Professor Bettina Borisch, Director of the World Federation of Public Health, not only gave a science lesson on the biology of cancer to attendees but also demonstrated the importance of early diagnosis. She emphasised the need to ensure that people with cancer can access the most appropriate and effective treatments while highlighting that outcomes can be improved through earlier detection and diagnosis.

Professor Henrik Gronberg, a cancer epidemiologist at the Karolinska Institutet, shared a Swedish example of enhancements to prostate screening. Our key message (that early detection should be considered a key aspect of cancer control strategies) aligned; during the same session, we spoke to the opportunity that LDCT screening for lung cancer holds to increase early detection..

Eduardo Pisani, CEO of All.Can International, drew all of these discussions around early detection together with his presentation on the core indicators for cancer care efficiency, which can improve people’s experience and outcomes of treatment.

Cancer care should not end after cancer treatment

An important theme throughout the day was learning from the experiences and reflections of people affected by cancer. We heard from Therese Leijon, of Ung Cancer, and Pia Watkinson, of the Cancer Rehab Foundation. Francoise Meunier also spoke passionately about the right to be forgotten and not reminded; a movement for cancer survivors to be able to access loans, insurance, and work.

All three speakers emphasised the importance of social and psychological support post-treatment, and the need for this to be age-appropriate. Dr Degi Laszlo Csaba also focused on this issue, stressing the need to ensure that mental health support is provided, both for those with cancer as well as their carers.

But are we on track?

As we approached the close of the day, Penilla Gunther, Founder of FOKUS Patient, encouraged all who were present to question whether we are on track to reduce inequalities in cancer care, and to improve early detection and treatments. This conversation carried through to a networking event, and we were incredibly motivated to see so many people dedicated to improving cancer outcomes who were also keen to collaborate, learn from each other and continue to focusing on those affected by cancer.

 

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