Today marks World Cancer Day 2020, and COCIR is proud to be part of the Union for International Cancer Control's (UICC) awareness campaign “I Am and I Will”.
Appropriately, the founding charter of World Cancer Day highlights the need for equitable access to quality care, funding for cancer research and - above all -greater understanding for treating all individuals living with the disease with respect and dignity. These priorities remain just as relevant and pressing today as they did when first written.
Medical technologies play an essential role in reducing illness and preventing premature death from cancer, through improved prevention, screening, early diagnosis, treatment and care. Indeed, COCIR's recent report “The Life Savers: The value of medical and digital health technology in breast cancer care”, highlighted how screening and early-stage detection has saved millions of lives, cutting premature death rates by a third to half.
In reality, the value of screening extends to many forms of cancer, which is why COCIR has asked the European institutions to act on the available clinical evidence and adopt Recommendations to support Member States in harmonising lung cancer screening programmes at national and regional levels.
Such support is essential, as the COCIR report revealed how high initial investment costs are limiting access to the latest technologies in many countries, despite the proven clinical benefits. Although clinicians are eager to embrace these latest technologies, these costs mean that policy makers and insurers are often unable to organise access. The problem is compounded by a shortage of appropriately-trained medical imaging and radiotherapy staff.
These circumstances are creating inequality of access and of outcomes for patients. Procurement of medical imaging and radiotherapy equipment, along with the accompanying investment in training and human resources, should be integral to policy changes and overall cancer plans, encompassing improved screening, diagnosis and targeted therapy. Investing now in screening and early diagnosis will deliver long-term savings and efficiencies.
Everybody wants more, better care. This is why we fully support the aims of World Cancer Day. We believe that it is vital to maintain the widest public focus on this disease and to raise awareness of the advances in medical technology. We are clearly moving in the right direction.
COCIR members will continue to invest heavily in research to make early diagnosis and treatment more effective, affordable and accessible to the widest possible population. However, maximising access and optimising utilisation of technology needs the continuing support of policymakers at all levels.
COCIR Secretary General