Addressing the long-term problems of survivors is one of the least-developed areas of cancer care. But its getting new attention for a good reason: For many cancers, the days when a diagnosis was a death sentence are gone. Today, there an estimated 12.5 cancer survivors living in Europe.
Their lives, however, arent necessarily easy. For some, cancer is a chronic disease that needs constant monitoring. For others, their treatments have boosted the risk of new cancers. And as brand-new therapies hit the market, the survivors of today become the research subjects of tomorrow, showing us with their bodies what the long-term effects of these innovations will be.
There are also social factors. Whether its casual stigma at work or formal rejection letters from mortgage and life insurance companies, cancer survivors find it hard return to normalcy.
POLITICOs Global Policy Lab has been looking at ways to ensure treatment doesnt end when the tumor disappears. In this brainstorm white paper, we lay out the key questions facing policymakers, industry leaders, health professionals and survivors themselves as they navigate long-term care for cancer.
The problem: Oncology treatments are hard on the body, and people who beat their cancers are prone to other issues down the line, from a weak heart to fertility problems and even heightened risks of a new cancer. Whats more, for many new treatments, we dont know what effect theyll have on the body years or decades down the line. Yet outside of cancer specialists, health professionals dont always know how to recognize a late effect of cancer treatment. And cancer survivors sometimes say they dont feel like they have enough information or motivation to take the best care of themselves.
The question: How can we prevent other diseases and treat the late effects of cancer therapy throughout the course of a cancer survivors life?
The problem: Beyond surgery scars and long-term health effects, cancer can leave a mark on survivors records that can cause lasting problems, sometimes putting things like mortgages and life insurance policies out of reach. France has implemented a “right to be forgotten” for cancer patients, relieving them of the obligation to disclose their cancer diagnosis five to 10 years after treatment, and other countries, including Belgium, are eyeing similar provisions. But the private insurance industry warns that such measures could lead to a slippery slope and force price increases for everyone.
The question: Whats the best way to protect cancer patients from financial discrimination?
The problem: Returning to work is increasingly viewed as a key part of long-term cancer care, helping patients get back to normal and maintain their self-esteem — not to mention their income. But it does often require accommodations from employers, whether its allowing telework, being flexible about part-time hours or buying new equipment. Businesses arent always eager to make these efforts.
The question: What are the barriers to getting cancer patients and survivors back on the job, and how can we overcome them?
The problem: As patients transition thRead More