Towards a mission‐oriented approach to cancer in Europe: an unmet need in cancer research policy


Today, cancer is a significant challenge for society, healthcare systems and the growing number of affected patients and their families. This article argues that new paradigms and conditions for responsible science and innovation policy across the European Union (EU) require (i) the collective action of Research & Development institutions, (ii) a system approach to health systems, higher education and patient organizations, and (iii) new initiatives to encourage international cooperation across an enlarged Europe; no single country can successfully fight the disease(s) on its own. Recently, a cancer mission was proposed (Celis and Pavalski, 2017), the origins of which are rooted in the continuous efforts of the research community, cancer patient organizations, member states and the European Commission during nearly two decades to address the fragmentation and lack of coordination of European cancer research; these efforts led to the creation of Cancer Core Europe and Cancer Prevention Europe, consortia aimed at linking therapeutic and prevention geometries. Ultimately, the platform/infrastructure will be composed of networks of Comprehensive Cancer Centres and cancer research centres across Europe to reach the critical mass of expertise, patients and collaborative portfolio of projects that are necessary to promote science‐driven and social innovations in the era of personalized (precision) cancer medicine. Employing a mission‐oriented approach to achieve the goal of ensuring a long life expectancy for three out of four cancer patients by 2030 is likely to have a particularly positive impact on the way European citizens’ value science and knowledge. It will change the lives of many families across Europe and beyond and should be oriented to ensure that Europe is at the forefront when it comes to quality of life. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that not a single person or region in Europe is left behind.

NewsJohn Rowell