Do you believe that the burden and impact of cancer in society is well understood?
Tim Turnham, Melanoma Research Foundation: Cancer is a complex disease, and we often think about it in terms of treatments, and drugs and drug regimens; what we miss is the broader implication of cancer. Cancer doesn’t have just the patient as a victim, but everybody around them.
With the growing burden of cancer and the ageing population, are cancer care services sustainable?
Tim Turnham, Melanoma Research Foundation: We’re seeing patterns in cancer care where we’re seeing more and more drugs that are working, but the whole cost of cancer care is going up. As more and more people are diagnosed with cancer, this will put an unsustainable burden on our healthcare systems.
What are some of the inefficiencies that currently exist in cancer care?
Vivek Muthu, Marivek Health Consulting: We must focus, laser-like, on reducing wastage and inefficiency. It might be non-adherence to treatments, or treatments not being used appropriately. It might be about misdiagnosis; it might be about failure to prevent or diagnose at the appropriate time.
How can we improve efficiency of cancer care to achieve the best outcomes possible for cancer patients in Europe?
Tim Turnham, Melanoma Research Foundation: Part of that waste is because we don’t adequately listen to patients and what their priorities are. We need to think about value from the patient perspective.
Vivek Muthu, Marivek Health Consulting: There’s an opportunity here also to make innovation more efficient. Not just about innovation in medicines but innovations in processes of care, in diagnostics, in training, in the support that patients and oncologists get in determining what the right pathways of care etc.
Lieve Wierinck, Member of the European Parliament: The required policy changes have to be looked at from a European perspective. As a member of the European parliament, I clearly see that we need better collaboration between all member states.
Professor Richard Greil, University Hospital Salzburg, SALK, Austria: So, putting all these things together, we need more and more research-orientated physicians, educated patients and pressure on politicians; and all together, with a research-orientated industry, I think we will be successful.
What is society’s responsibility in improving sustainable care?
Tim Turnham, Melanoma Research Foundation: Cancer is a complicated disease, and treating it needs complicated answers – and society can provide that kind of answer. What we see now are too many disparities of care. We need to think about our commitment to the people who are going through cancer.