Cancer survivorship

From projections of time trends, it is clear that the number of individuals living with a cancer diagnosis is increasing still more than the incidence and mortality. The first step towards cure is prolongation of survival.

Patients living with a cancer disease, which is under control (some subgroups of patients for long time periods), need support from health care systems. Converting cancer to a chronic disease, which may not affect survival, has been proposed as an achievable goal. An increasing number of treated patients with no evidence of disease may also be a challenge for health care systems.

Psychosocial and physical consequences of a cancer diagnosis and treatment may be substantial, not only in a short-term perspective, but also in the longer term. Rehabilitation efforts are often suboptimal or non-existent. Knowledge of long-term side effects is limited and more research efforts are needed. The concept of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) has to be implemented into clinical research and follow-up of treatments.

As the cure rate of patients with cancer is increasing, there are now more than 12.5 million patients considered as cured in Europe. However, new challenges are faced by many survivors such as difficulties to keep or find a job, insurances and mortgage. Therefore, there is a need to tackle these societal issues, in addition to the medical and HRQOL issues, and to identify potential pan European solutions as cancer has no frontiers and does not know borders. Optimal research programs on such innovative topic of long-term follow up and equal access for all citizens are needed in Europe.

The analysis of potential problems among cancer survivors is a multiprofessional task. The EACS may offer the necessary competence to suggest a strategy for research activities aiming at decreasing the suffering of cancer survivors.

Cancer survivorship: an integral part of Europe's research agenda.

Authors: Lagergren P, Schandl A, Aaronson NK, Adami HO, de Lorenzo F, Denis L, Faithfull S, Liu L, Meunier F, Ulrich C; European Academy of Cancer Sciences. 

Mol Oncol. 2019 Mar;13(3):624-635. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.12428

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