Using the body’s own immune system to fight disease, immuno-oncology has transformed the prognosis for many types of cancer.
Europe is experiencing an unprecedented cancer epidemic. Despite progress made in prevention, screening and treatment, finding a cure for cancer remains an elusive goal. Turning to the body’s own illness defence system provides hope for a solution.
The introduction over the past few years of treatments that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer has fuelled hope that long-term, quality survival may now be possible for people with many forms of advanced cancer. Immuno-oncology (or immunotherapy) is a family of therapies that enable the immune system to selectively recognise and attack cancer cells, and to ‘remember’ how to do this.
Immuno-oncology has the potential to work against many types of cancer. Progress in immuno-oncology in recent years has transformed the prognosis for many types of cancer, where patients previously would have had very little hope of survival.
What we’ve achieved
In 2014, we acted as secretariat to the European Expert Group on Immuno-Oncology, an independent network of patients, clinicians, politicians and industry. The group was co-chaired by the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and a Member of the European Parliament. It aimed to help ensure cancer patients across Europe have rapid access to immuno-oncology therapies.
This work led to the publication of a Policy Action Framework, which provides concrete proposals on how policymakers across Europe may help to improve patient access to immuno-oncology therapies. It has served as the starting point for policy round tables in several countries.
We also worked with ECPC to develop resources for patients, including a patient guide and the first European patient information portal on immuno-oncology and cancer immunotherapy.
The patient guide has been translated into 24 languages and disseminated via the ECPC member associations. The Immuno-oncology Portal has been widely used and has been made available in several languages.
Key partners and stakeholders
The report was endorsed by:
- European Cancer Patient Coalition
- Association for Cancer Immunotherapy
- European Society for Medical Oncology
- Lung Cancer Europe
- The Royal Marsden Hospital
- Let’s Win Foundation Poland
The development of the Policy Action Framework was initiated and funded by Bristol Myers Squibb. The development of the patient guide and Immuno-oncology Portal was supported by the European Cancer Patient Coalition.