More and better cure for an orphan: priorities for future paediatric cancer research in Europe – Meeting report of the EC-funded science-communication project DIRECT “Overcoming Cancer with Research”
Although cure rates for childhood cancer have improved from below 20% to more than 75% during the last 40 years, childhood cancer is still the number one killer amongst paediatric diseases. European paediatric cancer research also faces new challenges by the increasing number of childhood cancer survivors, some of whom experience significantly altered life-quality due to serious psychosocial and medical long-term side-effects of the intensive cancer treatment. Hence, to achieve even higher quantity and quality of cure for Europe’s children and adolescents with cancer, development of new treatment options is now required, as are intensified epidemiological investigations into health and psycho-social issues of paediatric cancer survivors on the EU-level.
Based on presentations and discussions at a recent meeting of leading European paediatric oncologists supported by the EC-funded science-communication project “DIRECT", this article discusses the situation of European paediatric cancer research under the EU-Framework Programmes (FPs).
Single, partially interlinking paediatric oncological research projects received EU-funding during the last three FPs. However, given the increased budgets for health research under the FP6 and FP7 together with their goal to improve the European Research Area (ERA), relatively few of the current challenges in European paediatric oncology have been covered so far when compared to the spending for adult cancer.
Although still fragmented, current EC-funded projects in paediatric oncology would be amenable to a higher level of integration. In order to achieve a closer approach to “total cure” including all medical, psychological and social aspects, paediatric cancer should become a horizontal priority of European research funding.