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Survivorship: The next frontier of cancer care improvement

On Sunday 9 September 2018, Professor Francoise Meunier, Director of Special Projects at EORTC will present in the Resolution-Forming Session on Survivorship at the ECCO summit which will be hosted in Vienna, Austria, from 7 to 9 September 2018.

The cancer survival rates in Europe have been steadily increasing and it is estimated that there are more than 10 million cancer survivors in Europe today. However, some cancer survivors find returning to work very difficult, as they are physically unable to return to their jobs as some survivors experience long-term medical side effects, such as chronic fatigue, infertility and psychological disorders, and are negatively discriminate by employers who are fearful of reintegrating them back into their companies. In a recent study it was shown that cancer survivors have a 40% chance of being unemployed compared to healthy individuals. Obtaining health insurance or other financial services is extremely difficult and expensive. In the Netherlands, 20% of 5 year survivors, below 50 years are unable to obtain life insurance.

The session will address the current scenario of cancer survivorship in Europe reflecting on key survivor issues including survivor access to financial services, “the right to be forgotten” and the return to normality.

The aim of the session is to present the issue of financial discrimination for cancer survivors, formulating the following principal resolution:

“By 2025, in respect to accessing financial services, the right of cancer survivors not to declare their cancer 10 years after the end of the active treatment and 5 years if they had cancer under 18, should be codified across European countries, similarly to the current French Law.”

The following actions will be undertaken to support this resolution;

  • By September 2019, European level patient organisations, healthcare professional associations and other stakeholder organisations should express a single consensus view on further measures to reduce the financial discrimination of those who survive cancer and/or live with cancer as a long term condition. This should include consideration of any financial discrimination evident within national welfare systems.
  • By the end of 2020, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority should issue guidance to insurers about the ethical principles that should apply in respect to cancer patients and cancer survivors’ insurance applications. This should include travel insurance, critical illness policies and definitions of cancer used by insurance companies.
  • By 2021, an EU level comparative study of EU member states approaches towards ensuring the rights of cancer survivors to access financial services in a fair manner should be conducted.
  • By 2022, national Governments should recognize the inequities that exist within the financial service landscape in respect to cancer survivors, have assessed their national legal frameworks accordingly, and proposed remediating measures, learning from the experience of France  in this respect.

“Patients are surviving cancer due to better treatments and better management of the disease”, said Professor Meunier. “However, governments have not taken into consideration on what happens to the person after treatment, financial discrimination and not been able to return back to normal life is a huge issue for cancer survivors and new societal challenge.” These issues were also which were presented at the 3rd EORTC Survivorship Summit in March this year and formed the basis of a special supplement on “Cancer survivorship: An innovative era for research and the need for cross-sector collaboration” published in the Journal of Cancer Policy, (Volume 15, Part B, Pages 67-134 (May 2018)).

Following the session, Professor Meunier will present the Patrick Johnson Memorial Lecture where she will  outline the tremendous progress in management of cancer due to multidisciplinarity and international cooperation.

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