Experts take action to address weaknesses in European cancer research


Europe may face a 'cancer epidemic' over the next decade if immediate action is not taken to address weaknesses in health infrastructure and gaps in research, warn scientists in a new report published in The Lancet Oncology.

Led by almost 50 experts — including researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) — the Lancet Oncology European Groundshot Commission considered over 12 years of data on cancer research activity.

Overall, total investment in cancer research in Europe between 2010 and 2019 (excluding the private sector) was found to be between 20 and 22 billion pounds — a figure nearly four times lower than in the USA during this time.

The authors also highlight the growing disparity between the east and west, with cancer research in the latter doubling in activity since 2009 compared to little or no change in the former.

Other inequalities include an apparent gender bias in the dynamic of research itself, as only 35% of principal investigators working on a total of 22,291 cancer research projects registered in the International Cancer Research Partnership database, were women.

Cancer prevention and diagnostic services were also impeded, with the authors revealing that over 100 million individuals missed their screening tests as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Going forward, the Commission highlights 12 key recommendations with the intention of helping to shape the future landscape of cancer research in Europe and, ultimately, to achieve the 70:35 target — defined as an average 10-year survival of 70% for all patients with cancer in Europe by 2035.