Health: research at half mast, screenings not carried out… after the whole Covid, a “cancer epidemic” in Europe?

The fight against cancer has suffered greatly from the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation of European research in this area in particular reveals huge flaws. A commission from The Lancet reviewed the situation and made recommendations to reverse the trend as quickly as possible.

How is cancer research doing? Not good at all in Europe. This is the distressing observation of The Lancet Oncology Commission, which has reviewed numerous data on this subject. “We have observed the chilling effects that the first wave of the pandemic had on scientific work with many closures of laboratories and clinical trials”, note the authors of the commission.

And the situation is only getting worse since other events have continued to deteriorate the state of research: Russia’s war against Ukraine – when these two countries were major contributors of oncological work -, and the Brexit, which hinders the common work between the United Kingdom and the continent.

Yet research is one of the key elements in the fight against the disease. Without firm political decisions on the matter, the situation risks getting even worse. “We fear that Europe is heading towards a cancer epidemic in the next decade if health systems and cancer research do not quickly become a priority”, alarm the authors.

What is the situation now?

And it is urgent because the fight against cancer is failing at all levels: therefore research but also prevention, treatment… As proof, several edifying figures are reported by the commission:

  • 100 million screening tests have not been carried out when they should have been done
  • 1 million European citizens are carriers of cancer without knowing it due to the pandemic
  • 1 out of 2 patients would not have received the necessary treatment in time.

What should be done ?

The commission recommends a significant increase in research funding. From 26 euros per head over the period between 2010 and 2019, the investment should at least double by 2030. A minimum when the United States had injected 234 euros per person over the same period. Without it, the chances of recovery may drop drastically in the years to come.

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