When it comes to bringing the best new treatments and techniques to cancer patients, it can sometimes take a year or two between when a therapy is approved and when it actually comes into regular use.
Thats actually not bad by the standards of European medicine. But then doctors and health systems face a host of other challenges: finding the money, determining if the treatment is actually worth it and translating lab findings into the real world, where unlike in clinical trials, patients may have other illnesses in addition to cancer.
At the same time, doctors increasingly find themselves explaining to patients why the latest new treatment they saw on TV might not be right for them.
Four cancer experts from various stages of the care spectrum joined me in Berlin for a discussion about these and other issues for the first Global Policy Lab: Decoding Cancer conference call. The discussion kicked off with a reflection about what the most realistic goals should be when we talk about “solving” cancer, before moving on to what works and doesnt in the German system.
- Johannes Bruns, secretary-general of the German Cancer Society (DKG)
- Petra Feyer, chairwoman of the Berlin Cancer Society
- Hanno Riess, head of the medical department, Division of Oncology and Hematology at Charité — University Medicine Berlin
- Carl Janssen, head of oncology for Germany, Pfizer