QUB professor launches plan to to address impact of Covid on cancer

  • A Queen’s University professor has launched a seven-point plan to address the “devastating impact” of Covid-19 on people with cancer across Europe.

    The plan has been unveiled at the 2020 European Cancer Summit where the European Cancer Organisation established a Special Focussed Network on Covid-19 and cancer.

    The Network, jointly led by QUB’s Professor Mark Lawler, convened an expert stakeholder group including patients, health care professionals, scientists and industry representatives, fast-tracking the delivery of a their plan.

    Prof Lawler has urged crucial attention is needed, not only to restore cancer services, but to build back better, and smarter, for the benefit of European citizens and cancer patients.

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    Speaking at the Summit, he said: “We now have concrete data that shows the life-threatening impact of Covid-19 on our European citizens, patients and services, with hundreds of thousands of cancer diagnoses being missed and cancer treatments being delayed or postponed.

    “This could potentially result in many thousands of lives being lost across Europe as a result of this pandemic.

    “We need to have accurate data in real time to best combat this crisis, otherwise we risk missing the vital intelligence that allows us to diagnose cancer earlier when treatment is more effective. The 7-Point Plan that we propose must be implemented.

    “Otherwise, cancer will regrettably become the Forgotten “C” in the fight against Covid-19. If that happens, we seriously risk a cancer epidemic across Europe, undoing in less than ten months, the progress we have made in improving cancer outcomes in the last decade.”

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    Prof Lawler also proposed a resolution to support the immediate implementation of a 7-Point Plan, which was unanimously supported by the European Cancer Organisation’s membership.

    The Plan proposes the following urgent recommendations to National Governments, the European Union, WHO Europe and others to:

    1. Urgently address the cancer backlog
    2. Restore the confidence of European citizens and patients in cancer health services
    3. Tackle medicines, products and equipment shortages
    4. Address cancer workforce gaps across the European continent
    5. Employ innovative technologies and solutions to strengthen cancer systems and provide optimal care to cancer patients
    6. Embed data collection and the rapid deployment of cancer intelligence to enhance policy delivery
    7. Secure and sustain deeper long-term European health cooperation as a key learning from the crisis

    Margaret Grayson, Chair of the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum said: "From a patient perspective, it is critical that our voice is heard, to ensure that cancer is not ignored during the fight against Covid.

    "The data that Prof Lawler and his team at Queen's have shown is very concerning, making the need for rapid action essential. The seven-point plan provides a clear roadmap that ensures that the patient's needs are addressed immediately in this critical time.”

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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