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Pancreatic cancer

 MEPs Against Cancer meeting: Pancreatic Cancer - An Under-Resourced Death Sentence:

22 September 12.30-15.00, European Parliament, Brussels

Presentation available 'How to overcome the dilemma of pancreatic cancer?', Professor Matthias Löhr 


Meeting report

On 22 September 2015, the MEPs against Cancer (MAC) European Parliament group met in Brussels to discuss the issue of pancreatic cancer, supported by the MAC Secretariat, the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL). This event was hosted by MEP Pavel Poc (S&D, Czech Republic) and speakers included Professor Matthias Löhr (Karolinksa Institute, Sweden), and John F. Ryan (European Commission, Acting Director of Public Health, DG SANTE). The speakers recognized the need to take political action to fight against the growing public health threat that this particular cancer represents. MEPs in attendance included Alojz Peterle (EPP, Slovenia) Nessa Childers (S&D, Ireland), Inese Vaidere (EPP, Latvia) and Mairead McGuinness (EPP, Ireland).

The meeting was opened by Pavel Poc MEP and Vice President of the MAC group, who outlined the current situation of pancreatic cancer: it is difficult to screen and detect due to the location of the pancreas in the body and diagnosis is often late, where the prognosis is generally around three months. Despite advances in science and technology and decreases in rates of other cancers, the rates of pancreatic cancer are increasing.

President of the MAC group, Alojz Peterle, highlighted that we are not fast enough in responding to the development of cancer, and as the population are living longer, cancer rates are increasing in both males and females. We need to take action on all levels, including social and political. Mr Peterle outlined that 2015 is a special year for European cancer policy; it marks 30 since the first EU action on cancer initiative, and 10 years since the creation of the MAC group. Mr Peterle also stressed the need for increased prioritisation of prevention policies at national level. It is also imperative not to view the Lisbon Treaty as restrictive, but enabling us to strengthen public health across the EU. 

Professor Mathias Löhr from the Karolinska institute, Sweden presented the scientific background to pancreatic cancer diagnosis and the devastating status of the disease, including high mortality rates, the lack of progress in research and funding compared to other cancers, the limited number of patient organizations, impact of late diagnosis, research challenges, as well as presenting a new multi stakeholder initiative on pancreatic cancer. See full presentation here.

Mr John F. Ryan, Acting Director of Public Health in DG SANTE, European Commission presented the international statistics on pancreatic cancer. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reports 78,000 new cases in the EU in 2012, with a mortality rate of 77,000. If pancreatic cancer rates continue in this way, by 2020, it will be the second deadliest cancer after breast cancer. Mr Ryan agreed with MEP Peterle on the importance of increasing the importance of prevention policies in national healthcare budgets. Unless increased emphasis is placed on prevention, national health systems will be unsustainable.

During the stakeholder discussions, the following policy initiatives were discussed: 

  • Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI); a public-private partnership between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry aimed at accelerating the development of new medicines. See
  • European Joint Action for Comprehensive Cancer Control (CanCon) 2014-2017. See
  • Joint Action for Rare diseases and upcoming Joint Action for Rare Cancers
  • European research funding is only one branch of financing, we also need to look to national level, as this is where most funding is derived from.
  • It is important to engage the Rotating Presidency of the European Council and ensure topics such as pancreatic cancer are included in the priorities of their term.





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