New European cancer organization established

A new organization called the European Academy of Cancer Sciences has been formed to advocate for cancer patients and to help prevent policy decisions that negatively affect oncology.

The group's goal is to inform and educate government policy makers at the national, European, and global levels. The group was introduced at the European Cancer Organization (ECCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) joint congress being held this week in Berlin.

The academy will be a virtual body of 114 members representing all cancer disciplines, according to Dr. Alexander Eggermont, president of the European Cancer Organization. Members are elected for life, with up to 50 new members elected each year. Members of the ECCO Board and Policy Committee also belong to the founding group.

One of the goals of the academy is to serve as a reference point for policy makers and professionals in the field of oncology research and oncology care. The academy was established to help prevent the European Union's Clinical Trials Directive and the Physical Agents (Electromagnetic Fields) Directive.

The Clinical Trials Directive greatly reduced the amount of academic clinical research in oncology in Europe related to surgery, radiotherapy, and systemic medicinal therapy, and has had a catastrophic effect on the independent evaluation and comparison of drugs by academic clinical researchers, according to Eggermont, a professor and surgical oncologist at the Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Physical Agents Directive could have stopped all MRI scanning in Europe by setting limits to occupational radiation exposure, he said, but implementing the rules has been delayed until 2012 after intense lobbying by the radiology and medical device communities.

The new organization's first objective is to prepare a paper on ways to boost cancer research in Europe, Eggermont said.

Related Reading

European Parliament finalizes delay of EMF directive, February 21, 2008

European Commission delays MRI usage directive, October 29, 2007

Alliance for MRI gains delay, but new European rules still loom, July 26, 2007

Scientists warn new EU rules threaten MRI scans, June 11, 2007

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