The European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP-Europe, or SIOPE) marked the International Childhood Cancer Day on 20 February 2018 at the European Parliament with the support of MEP Elena Gentile (S&D, IT). Despite its rarity, paediatric cancer is an important health issue in Europe: 35,000 new cases are diagnosed and 6,000 lives are lost to the disease every year, and at least one third of survivors face adverse late effects throughout life.
At the International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day 2018, academics from SIOPE together with parents and survivors made a strong case that the next EU budget for research and health should include paediatric cancer as a clear priority.
The paediatric haematology and oncology community in Europe has made important strides to increase the rate and quality of cure for children and adolescents with cancer, with support from EU projects. Nevertheless, important needs remain and can only be addressed with further international cooperation and support from the EU.
Pamela Kearns, President-Elect of SIOPE, said: “Lack of coordinated funding for clinical trial activities across Europe is the single greatest challenge. The next EU Framework Programme for research should enable stable and sustainable clinical trial platforms, support international collaborations, and foster funding that can lead to a visionary change for children and adolescents with cancer”.
Ruth Ladenstein, SIOPE Board Member and Coordinator of the European Reference Network for Paediatric Cancer, said: “Virtual Tumour Boards provide quality assurance and are a cost effective way to deliver guidance in paediatric cancer treatments. We need to ensure the sustainability of this new mechanism and secure new arrangements to compensate for virtual cross-border care advisory function of expert teams across Europe to ensure equal access to the best knowledge for all children with cancer”.
Jaap den Hartogh and Aida Kopriva-Kryeziu, PanCare and CCI Europe, gave the cancer survivor perspective and emphasised: “Cure is not enough – every survivor needs to receive optimal follow up care including psychosocial support to engage in society and live life to the fullest”. Lejla Kameric, CCI Europe, further stressed the critical role of the involvement of parents, patients and survivors from all over Europe in EU projects.
Martin Schrappe, SIOPE President, concluded: “Innovative ideas cannot survive if they do not get sustainable funding. There is a strong need for innovation and improvements to be made for the paediatric cancer sector”. Elena Gentile MEP and Patrizia Toia MEP (S&D, IT) expressed their firm support to the paediatric cancer cause. A fruitful discussion with the representatives of the European Commission centred on the best ways to strengthen international multi-stakeholder cooperation.
Participants from the paediatric haematology oncology community concluded with the call launched by Gilles Vassal, SIOPE Board Member: “Towards a paediatric cancer moonshot initiative in the next EU budget –zero deaths, zero sequelae”. Stakeholders recognised the need for sustainable funding to achieve more and better cure for children and adolescents with cancer across Europe.
More information about this event here.