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European Association of Urology and Alliance for Personalised Medicine to put prostate cancer high on the agenda

The European Association of Urology (EAU), alongside the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) and other partners, has taken important steps forward in the fight against prostate cancer and other diseases.

The on-going parliamentary discussions with Members of the European Parliament come ahead of a meeting for Prostate Cancer Awareness Day, which will be taking place on 27 September, and in which a number of MEPs will be taking part.

The meeting will call on the European Commission and other EU institutions to raise awareness of prostate cancer and what the EU can do to support positive change; aim to publicise its White Paper on prostate cancer and to receive a response from the European Commission on how they have taken the advice into consideration, and: aim to build on the structure of the White Paper to develop a 10-point action plan for the EU.

Parliament has already stated that it is impressed by the work of EAU and its colleagues in this area, including its White Paper, and is taking the issues seriously. 

The full White Paper can also be reviewed here.

For almost 40 years the EAU has addressed the most pressing issues of urological care in Europe, through its scientific and educational initiatives, as well as its publications. 

The EAU represent over 16,000 medical professionals sharing best practices and the latest know-how in urological research and care.

As well it might: prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer, and accounts for almost one-in-ten cancer deaths among European males.

There is an ongoing debate of the benefits of screening, meanwhile, that needs resolving and acting upon swiftly.

This week, EAPM and colleagues were engaging with the European Parliament on the vital issue of the use of Big Data in medicine, which backed up an Alliance letter signed by cross-party MEPs and sent to European Commissioners Andrus Ansip (Digital Single Market) and Vytenis Andriukaitis (Health and Food Safety).

This called for a Data Task Force to develop further the Commission’s digital strategy in health, plus a one-million-genomes initiative for Europe.

This dovetails into a number of initiatives under the title of 'Big Data for Better Outcomes' being run by the Innovative Medicines Initiative, or IMI.

The meetings with parliamentarians this week followed up the prostate cancer issue which was presented to EAPM’s diverse stakeholder groups in December during its general meeting.

Given the EU’s ageing population, the burden on society due to prostate cancer is expected to increase dramatically.

In this context, it is perhaps surprising that the research funding available is below other killer cancers.

This means that progress in the area is slow.

A further issue is that EU Member States have large disparities in how often prostate cancer is diagnosed, and the survival rates vary alarmingly from country-to-country.

Given the amount of medical data theoretically available, in the case of prostate cancer it is still the case that there is not enough information on risk factors or patient characteristics.

Arguably, the data is out there, as is the genetic information, but it is not being used in the most efficient ways possible.

So, knowing which patients are safe in the short term, and which will have the best outcomes via targeted treatment, is a lot harder than it should be.

As with many modern-day healthcare breakthroughs, new knowledge is taking too long to be put to effective use on the ground.

Such inefficiency has an obvious effect on safety and on economics, too.

The above issues and challenges can only be solved by key stakeholders, including patients, coming together and collaborating in a manner that EAPM already uniquely employs.

MEP Marian Harkin, who has worked often with EAPM and will be speaking at the EAU event, said this week “It is time that Europe realised that prostate cancer is just as deadly as breast cancer and occurs as often. Yet it is rarely discussed, research funding is lower than optimal levels, and the screening debate has yet to be closed. We must change this as soon as possible by working together.”

And another supportive parliamentarian, Cristian Bușoi, said “The work of the EAU and EAPM, in concert with the parliament at every turn, is vital to outlining a shared vision and implementable solutions to what is a huge problem in Europe.”

Louis Denis, Past President, Europa Uomo, the pan-European prostate patients ' organisations,  added “Prostate cancer tends to get over looked. Men don’t talk about it when they really should. Not in the way that women talk about, and are aware of, the risk of breast cancer. Prostate cancer incidence is set to rise and we have to act now, every stakeholder. There is no time to be lost, but we need agreed guidelines.”

And James N' Dow, chairman of the Guidelines Office Board at EAU, explained that his board “exists to improve the care of urological patients worldwide. Guidelines are a highly influential tool across Europe for the improvement of clinical care, the harmonisation of healthcare provision, and the management of healthcare resources,” he added. We’re all doing well and working together, but all stakeholders must do better."

Source: European Alliance for Personalised Medicine

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