Equitable healthcare access and keeping cancer awareness high in the public agenda are among the challenges that remain despite medical advances and technological breakthroughs, say health experts and policy makers who gathered today in Brussels for the seventh Prostate Cancer Europe Roundtable.
Hosted by the UK-based International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS), the roundtable discussion also saw the launching of the EAU's White paper on prostate cancer which contained six key recommendations including improving healthcare access, cancer prevention strategies, implementing survivorship plans and sustaining public awareness campaigns, among other proposals.
"Prostate cancer awareness still requires more effort from all concerned to keep it high in the agenda. What we aim is to closely look into patients’ needs and the views of various experts, and from there present a set of recommendations to government and members of the parliament," said roundtable chair and former MEP John Bowis, OBE.
Bowis was joined in the roundtable discussion by Marilys Corbex of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Health Office for Europe, EAU Adjunct Secretary General for Education Prof. Hein Van Poppel and Dr. Jan-Willem Van de Loo representing the European Commission.
"We need the help of the European Union to make people aware of prostate cancer and its risks. As one of the cancers with significant mortality rates in Europe, there is a need to focus on specific awareness programmes," said Van Poppel.
Corbex underscored the threat of prostate cancer particularly among elderly men who often have high-risk, metastatic disease and where early intervention strategies could help reduce complications, radical treatment and morbidities.
Van Poppel also emphasized the continuing work done by professional medical groups such as the EAU to create and publish evidence-based guidelines for urological specialists, creating support for patient advocates through its Patient Information Group, and active collaboration with other medical disciplines via joint research and scientific meetings.
"European authorities and Member States need to ensure that PCa patients receive high-quality standardised and integrated cure with a focus on a patient-centred multidisciplinary approach," said Van Poppel, citing one of the EAU's recommendations.
The recommendations also underlined the importance of equitable access to novel technological tools that enable better diagnosis, treatment and research. The 22-page White Paper, which also included comprehensive background information on treatment, also anticipates that the future is likely to include risk-adapted treatment programmes that require contemporary imaging and diagnostic tools.
Other EAU recommendations were:
- Access to innovative treatments and personalised medicines should be made fast and equitable for all PCa patients;
- Prompt and consistent Health Technology Assessment (HTA) should be performed on all new screening diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation technologies to provide the base for effective, efficient and targeted allocation of resources;
- It is essential to sustain awareness campaigns, both at European and national levels, and to help achieve the main goals set out in the paper, and
- The EU and Member States should promote the implementation of survivorship plans including plans for PCa patients to facilitate the return to a normal life for all European PCa patients.
Download the white paper here or read it below: