Doctors and patients call on politicians to save lives of cancer patients

Speaking today at a workshop on 'Cancer treatment: a priority for patients in Europe', cancer specialists and representatives of cancer patients called on the UK and Luxembourg governments to put access to quality cancer treatment at the top of their health agendas during their Presidencies of the EU in 2005. According to Prof. John Smyth, Director of the Cancer Research Centre at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland and President-Elect of the Federation of European Cancer Societies (FECS), "not everyone realises how much real progress has been achieved in recent years for the treatment of cancer. Why? Because, not everyone has access to the latest advances. Availability of treatment is as much a political as a medical decision and with 1 in 3 of the population affected, it is to everyone's advantage to put cancer management at the top of their priority list".

Prof. Smyth was speaking as part of a panel of experts from the medical profession and from European patients' organisations who were addressing an audience of representatives of national health ministries, Members of the European Commission, MEP's and journalists as part of this year's European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG). The EHFG brings together key policy makers from the European Institutions and the EU Member States as well as interested stakeholders. The panel drew attention to the fact that despite cancer being the second largest cause of death in the EU, patients still do not have adequate or uniform access to treatment.

"The availability of new treatments for the management of cancer is dependant on two factors. Firstly scientific discovery and secondly, the political will to make financial investment to translate it into practical treatment", explained Prof. Smyth. "In Europe there are exceptional opportunities to progress scientific discovery into better cancer management but we must address the different roles of academia and industry. We also need to address the cur

Contact: Stuart Bell
Federation of European Cancer Societies

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