Queen's University cancer specialist's drive to improve survival rates for every European citizen

February 4, 2014, Queen's University Belfast

Queen's University Belfast's world renowned cancer specialist, Professor Patrick Johnston, whose work has transformed cancer care in Northern Ireland, is now leading efforts to improve survival rates across Europe.

At the forefront of cancer research for the last twenty-five years, Professor Johnston's leadership has seen cancer in Northern Ireland move from the bottom of the UK league table to near the top. His work over the last two years, alongside some of the world's leading cancer experts and patient groups, will culminate in the launch of a European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights, significantly on World Cancer Day (4th February).

The Bill of Rights, which will be launched at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and has the support of many MEPs, is the result of two years of work by the European Cancer Concord and Co-Chaired by Professor Johnston. It aims to address the disparities that currently exist in from one European country to the next.

Leading the vital initiative, Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences at Queen's University, Professor Patrick Johnston said: "In Northern Ireland we have seen the difference that a Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Programme can have on patient outcomes. Previously Northern Ireland was sitting at the bottom of the UK table for rates and thanks to pioneering work at Queen's, in association with the Health Service, we're now close to the top. This Bill of Rights aims to set a standard that all European countries can aspire to, ensuring that all citizens are entitled to the optimum cancer care regardless of where in Europe they live."

Professor Mark Lawler, also of Queen's University Belfast and the ECC Project Lead on this initiative, said: "Currently three people succumb to this deadly disease every minute throughout Europe. With an ageing population, that number will increase to one person dying every ten seconds from cancer in just 25 years. We have to act now to reduce this frightening statistic. It is critical that today, on World Cancer Day, we insist that it is the right of every European citizen to receive an optimal level of care."

The Bill of Rights, which has also been published today in leading journals The Lancet Oncology and The Oncologist, is underpinned by three key principles: the right of every European citizen to receive accurate information and be involved in their own care; the right of every European citizen to access specialised cancer care underpinned by research and innovation; and the right of every European citizen to cost-effective health systems that ensure optimum cancer outcomes.

Professor Thierry Le Chevalier, Co-Chair ECC and Chair of the Institute of Thoracic Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Paris, France, said: "This equal partnership between patients and health care professionals which the ECC has created and is nurturing, provides a springboard for the change required to deliver improved outcomes for European citizens and societies." Ian Banks, Chair of the Patient Advocacy Committee of the European Cancer Organisation and President of the European Men's Health Forum who has worked alongside Professors Johnston and Lawler on this initiative, said: "We already have a number of MEPs from across Europe supporting this initiative and we expect even more will sign up in Strasbourg to ensure that the Bill of Rights is a standard to which all European countries adhere to. With support for the mandate, we aim to look and see how new approaches can be developed that will really make the difference to the cancer patient."

Recent studies have shown that survival varies greatly country by country. Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia have the lowest survival rates in Europe. Survival in these countries is below the European average particularly for good prognosis cancers like colon, rectum, lymphomas, and skin melanoma. Nordic countries with the exception of Denmark, central European countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Netherlands, and some countries in southern Europe have the best survival rates in Europe for most cancers.

The Launch of the European Cancer Patient's Bill of Rights takes places in the European Parliament in Strasbourg at 12pm GMT.

Explore further: Is Europe equipped with enough medical oncologists? Horizon still unknown

More information: The full Bill of Rights is available online at sto-online.org/european-cancer-concord

The Lancet Oncology paper is available here: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (13)70552-7/abstract

The Oncologist paper is available online at: theoncologist.alphamedpress.or … t.2013-0452.abstract

Related Stories

Is Europe equipped with enough medical oncologists? Horizon still unknown

January 17, 2014
The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) has welcomed a recent survey that shows the number of medical oncologists in Western Europe appears to be keeping pace with the rising toll of cancer.

Study highlights varying cancer survival rates across Europe

December 13, 2013
Cancer survival rates are continuing to improve in England, according to the results from a Europe-wide collaborative project.

Defending medical oncology to assure quality care for cancer patients

December 13, 2013
Medical oncologists have a vital role to play in cancer care, particularly as treatments become ever more complex, a new position statement [1] from the European Society for Medical Oncology says.

Large differences in cancer survival between European countries still remain despite major improvements in cancer diagno

December 4, 2013
Cancer survival still varies widely between European countries despite major improvements in cancer diagnosis and treatment during the first decade of the 21st century, according to the latest EUROCARE-5 reports covering ...

Care after treatment is 'letting down' men with prostate cancer

October 16, 2013
More than 8 in 10 men living with prostate cancer may not be getting the nursing care they need to prevent possible psychological and sexual problems following treatment, according to a new study published in the British ...

More people surviving cancer in Northern Ireland

February 28, 2012
Despite the rising incidence of cancer in Northern Ireland, the number of people surviving the disease in the country is increasing significantly year on year.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.