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Press Release: European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day holds European Parliament event

Publication date: 29.09.2017

Brussels, 28 September, 2017: The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) was on hand in the European Parliament yesterday (27 September) to play its part in the annual European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day.

The Alliance’s executive director, Denis Horgan, gave an account of the role personalised medicine can play in managing this disease, which is the most frequent cancer in men.

Prostate cancer is currently on the rise and is the third-most common cause of death for men in Europe. This has important consequences for healthcare systems.

The European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day (EPAD) aims to raise awareness, understanding, and knowledge of the management of prostate cancer, and the organisers state that saving lives and ensuring a high quality of life requires immediate European action.

With this in mind, politicians and scientists gathered to share understanding and knowledge of the management of the disease.

Europa Uomo, the European Association of Urology (EAU) and its partners co-organise the yearly event which sees policy makers, scientific experts, European associations working in the urological field and representatives of European patient groups with an interest in prostate disease meet.

A White Paper entitled ‘Prostate Cancer: Recommendations to lower the risk and mortality rate of the most frequent cancer in men’ was launched by European Association of Urology, Europa Uomo, ECPC and the EAPM, and the next steps to work towards lowering the risks and improving the management and care of prostate cancer were discussed by key influencers in both the political and scientific arena. 

The high-level meeting was hosted by Alojz Peterle, President of the ‘MEPs against Cancer’ group and fellow MEP Marian Harkin, who is also a member of the group.

They were joined by Francesco De Lorenzo, president of the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and Ken Mastris, who is chairman of Europa Uomo, who gave an introduction on the role of patients and the importance of EPAD.

They were joined during the event by Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, who gave the Commission’s response to the White Paper.

Representatives from EAU and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) also spoke at the event, which also highlighted a call to action for EU institutions.

Around one-in-three men aged from 40-60 has traces of prostate cancer, and the risk rises with ageing. This week’s meeting called on the European Commission and other EU institutions to raise awareness on prostate cancer and focused on what the EU can do to support positive change.

The European Parliament has already stated that is impressed by the work being done in this area, including the White Paper, and is taking the issues seriously.

EAU’s Adjunct Secretary General EAU said: “The EAU has a wealth of expertise, scientific resources and tools targeting both clinicians and patients on which the EU work on PCa could build and expand.  The EAU will actively engage with all EU institutions to create a better future for all Europe’s PCa patients.”

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing debate of the benefits of screening, that needs resolving and acting upon swiftly.

Given the EU’s ageing population, the burden on society due to prostate cancer is expected to increase dramatically. In this context, it is perhaps surprising that the research funding available is below other killer cancers. This means that progress in the area is slow.

A further issue is that EU Member States have large disparities in how often prostate cancer happens, and the survival rates vary alarmingly from country-to-country.

MEP Marian Harkin has said before: “It is time that Europe realised that prostate cancer is just as deadly as breast cancer and occurs as often. Yet it is rarely discussed, research funding is lower than optimal levels, and the screening debate has yet to be closed. We must change this as soon as possible by working together.”

EAPM’s Denis Horgan said after the event: “Prostate cancer tends to get over looked. Men don’t talk about it when they really should. Not in the way that women talk about, and are aware of, the risk of breast cancer.

“Prostate cancer incidence is set to rise and we have to act now, every stakeholder. There is no time to be lost, but we need agreed guidelines,” Horgan added.

“We’re all doing well and working together, but all stakeholders must do better,” he said.

Author: Denis Horgan
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