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EIT Health joins call to ‘Close the Care Gap’ on cancer

4th February 2022

Today we mark World Cancer Day by vowing to back more innovative technologies that can help to support early screening and diagnosis of cancer in a bid to ‘Close the Care Gap’ and help provide equitable care for all.

This year’s World Cancer Day’s theme is all about raising awareness of the equity gap that affects people across the globe and looks at how we can prevent unnecessary deaths through wider access to care and innovative solutions – no matter who you are or where you live.

As an EU-backed network of best-in class health innovators, we believe greater focus on screening and early diagnosis of the disease will not only improve survival rates but may also generate substantial cost-savings that could be re-invested into new technology and services that aim to further improve patient outcomes. Across the world, earlier diagnosis improves the odds of fighting the disease – and it means that cancer treatment is two-to-four times less expensive.[1]

Currently, nearly nine million people die from cancer around the world each year and there is an expected 25 per cent increase in cancer cases in Europe over the next decade,[2] putting an even greater strain on healthcare systems as they emerge from the pandemic.

We are committed to playing our part in the battle against cancer. As well as supporting across all areas of oncology, we have developed and launched numerous innovative solutions focused on the early detection and diagnosis of cancer in some of the biggest killers – see examples here.

Our open innovation programme, ‘Wild Card’ will go even further in 2022, awarding support and up to three million euros in investment to those with innovative ideas for advancing early detection of lung and prostate cancer.

Lung cancer is one of the deadliest cancers but can be successfully treated if detected early. In the EU, it is estimated that lung cancer accounts for 11.9% of all new cancer diagnoses and 20.4% of all deaths from cancer. This makes it the fourth most frequently occurring cancer (after prostate, breast, and colorectal cancers) and the leading cause of cancer death.[3]

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men but can be well treated and even cured when caught in its early stages. The chances of surviving more than five years are halved when prostate cancer is detected in later stages.[4]

By focusing on screen and diagnosis, as well as other areas of oncology, we hope to uncover new ways to detect cancer earlier, giving millions of people a better chance of survival and reducing the economic pressure on healthcare systems.

Jan-Philipp Beck, CEO at EIT Health said:Incredible work has taken place over the past decades to improve cancer services, and as we begin to plan for life after COVID-19, it’s time to upweight our focus on early detection and diagnosis of this disease.

“Treating cancer early is better for everyone – it has a better success rate generally, is less expensive, and it comes with better quality of life for the patient. EIT Health’s vision for closing the gap is underpinned by supporting cutting-edge technology that can make it easier to prevent, find, and treat cancers as early as possible.

“Cancer claimed the lives of 1.3 million people in Europe in 2020.[5] The earlier we can spot cancer, the more lives we can save.”

We have supported numerous cancer projects and start-ups focussed on improving outcomes for people with the disease, just three examples in early diagnosis include: Stockholm3, Optellum and OncoWatch.

  • Stockholm3 is transforming prostate cancer detection with an innovative diagnostic test that’s proven to be twice as effective at diagnosing aggressive prostate cancer versus standard PSA tests. Results from the latest STHLM3 MRI trial, demonstrate that using the blood test reduced unnecessary and invasive biopsies by 74% in population based prostate screening tests.[6] It has now been evaluated in trials amongst almost 60,000 men – creating one of the largest prostate cancer diagnosis datasets in the world. Currently available in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, the company has plans to launch across the rest of Europe and the world.
  • OncoWatch provides game changing improvements to prostate cancer diagnostics and treatment by combining Big Data, AI and cloud-based technologies. Most recently, research was published in The Lancet Oncology, demonstrating that the accuracy of their artificial intelligence (AI) system in diagnosing prostate cancer in tissue samples was comparable with specialist healthcare professionals.[7] The system was developed by the team behind Stockholm3, with EIT Health playing a key role in accelerating the development and implementation the new AI system through extensive network and financial support.
  • Optellum is an AI-based early lung cancer decision support software capable of recognising the signs of lung cancer much earlier, giving doctors a huge opportunity to get patients treated before the disease develops. Most recently, they have secured strategic partnerships with GE Healthcare, J&J, National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) and Innovate UK. With one of the largest data sets of CT scans in the world, Optellum plans to continue to expand their portfolio in a bid to transform early lung cancer therapy with the aim of being able to intervene at a pre-disease state, to prevent the disease before it has the chance to develop clinical symptoms.

  1. WHO, Available at: https://www.who.int/news/item/03-02-2017-early-cancer-diagnosis-saves-lives-cuts-treatment-costs (Accessed January 2022)

  2. European Commission, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_342 (Accessed January 2022)

  3. European Cancer Information System, Available at: https://ecis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ (Accessed January 2022)

  4. Cancer Research, Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/prostate-cancer/survival#heading-Three (Accessed January 2022)

  5. European Cancer Information System, Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/2020-cancer-incidence-and-mortality-eu-27-countries (Accessed January 2022)

  6. AP3 Biomedical, STHLM3 MRI trial, Available at:  https://www.a3pbiomedical.com/en/fast-track-publication-of-the-sthlm3-mri-trial-in-the-lancet-oncology/ (Accessed January 2022)

  7. The Lancet, https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(19)30738-7/fulltext (Accessed January 2022)

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