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ERS opens a positive debate on lung cancer research at the EU level

On 23 June, ERS convened a high-level roundtable on lung cancer in Brussels.

Chaired and hosted by Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Professor Philippe Juvin, the event aimed to discuss strategies for how to improve lung cancer prevention, treatment and management at a research and policy level.

Moderated by ERS EU Affairs Secretary Professor Jean-Paul Sculier, the event welcomed various stakeholders to discuss the most recent developments in lung cancer research. Attendees included physicians, patients, health organisations and industry representatives.

Professor Juvin opened the roundtable discussion and informed participants about existing EU measures to fight lung cancer. These include the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) legislation on air pollution and the revised clinical trials regulation, which will help to advance research in this area. Other key points presented included the existing derogations in the Asbestos Regulation, the potential threat of the new Data Protection legislation for medical research and the need for the EU to develop guidelines on lung cancer screening.

Speaking on behalf of the European Commission, Dr Dominika Trzaska emphasised the role of the EU in supporting lung cancer research. She pointed out that between 2007 and 2015, 39 projects specifically focused on lung cancer were supported by the European Commission with an overall financial contribution of €44 million. She stated that the EU was aware of the burden of cancer in Europe and that funds will be maintained to help research in this area.

Representing the first speaker of the scientific panel, Professor Mina Gaga updated the audience with the present and recent advances in lung cancer screening. She presented the recent ERS/ESR guidelines which advocate for "lung cancer screening performed in comprehensive, quality-assured programmes within a clinical trial or in a routine clinical practice at certified multidisciplinary medical centres". She added that screening should go together with a strong smoking-cessation programme.

Opening the discussion on the future of lung cancer treatment, Professor Jean-Paul Sculier presented the different treatment options for lung cancer patients such as chemotherapy but also the recent targeted therapies and immune therapies. He pointed out that these new treatments are promising as they target the cancer's specific genes proteins of the patient or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth. However, he reminded the audience that these therapies are still under development and their effectiveness is very dependent on the type of cancer. Obviously, more research in this area will be needed. 

Following the same topic, Chair of the ERS Thoracic Oncology Assembly Professor Anne-Pascale Meert, gave an overview of the ERS HERMES initiative. She stressed that one of the project's objectives is to improve lung cancer care in Europe by harmonising education of various specialists involved in thoracic oncology. As the project is ongoing, Anne-Pascale Meert informed the audience that the thoracic oncology task force has already achieved the consensus-based European core syllabus and that the curriculum will be published next year.

The patient voice was represented by Mr Pierre Blanchard, a former European Commission official and a lung cancer survivor. Talking about his own experience, Mr Blanchard welcomed present and future patient's involvement in lung cancer treatment and care. However, he suggested that more explanation should be given by health professionals to the patients on the adverse effects from the treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapies etc.) and that more psychological support should be provided.

To tackle the deadliest cancer in Europe, the EU and the scientific community need to continue working together and guarantee further research, better protection for the citizens from risk factors and provide EU guidelines on early screening.

Find out more about ERS actions on lung cancer:

The Oncology Tuesday at the 2015 ERS International Congress

The activities of the ERS Tobacco Control Committee

The Smoking-Cessation course in Athens

The Smokehaz website

The Lung cancer research seminar

The ERS/ESR white paper on lung cancer screening

 

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 The speakers of the Lung cancer roundtable

 

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 ERS EU Affairs Secretary Prof Jean-Paul Sculier and MEP Philippe Juvin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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