At TEDx Monte Carlo on November 26, Françoise Meunier, EORTC Director Special Projects, exposed the challenges of life after cancer, and paid tribute to patients who have participated in clinical research to contribute to the advancement of cancer treatment:
“By 2020, 15 million citizens will be confronted to cancer on an annual basis. This is the consequence of an ageing population and advances in other fields of medicine. But the good news is we have made tremendous progress, and cancer is no longer a death sentence. This progress is due to our increasing understanding of the disease and its causes, better diagnostic tools but also the results of thousands of patients volunteering to participate in clinical studies that have chanced clinical practice.
Today more than 55 % of patients are cured but for certain cancers the figures are much greater. There were 32m cancer survivors in 2012, many more today. Still, cancer remains a life-threatening disease and difficult to treat. Patients have to go through a difficult path, and once they are declared cured (after 5 years), they face new challenges: discrimination and stigmatization: they face difficulties getting or keeping a job, are refused insurance, and face harsh financial burdens.
My personal commitment is to do everything I can to help solve this issue of discrimination by: increasing awareness of the problem still too often ignored with the cancer survivorship summit, as well as research projects on the topic; helping change the rules by lobbying governments and insurance companies to adapt the legal framework; and paving the way for new business models.
One should not pay to be a survivor. It is time for all of us to have vision, ideas, creativity, solutions in order for cancer survivors to enjoy a better life.”