pola Lithuania Archives | Youth Cancer Europe (YCE)

February 4th is #WorldCancerDay. Here at Youth Cancer Europe, we continue to fight harder than ever to ensure that the voices of young cancer patients and survivors are heard across the continent, empowering them to become a key part of how cancer treatment and after-care is shaped in their own territories, and ensuring that the best possible, quality treatment is accessible to all regardless of where they come from.

We spoke to Martynas and Aurimas from Lithuania’s Junior Doctors’ Association about the need for young cancer patients and survivors to be part of the discussion that shapes medical care for current and future generations. Watch their interview here

A fresh new patient-led study was published on the 5th of October 2017 in Frontiers in Pharmacology (IF4.4), the most cited open-access journal of its kind. The Overview on Patient Centricity in Cancer Care (S. Narbutas et al.) reviews 20 clinical cancer guidelines and showcases the results of patient organisations surveyed in eighteen countries on four continents.

Our verdict is clear: patients’ preferences and values are not properly captured in health technology assessment (HTA) and in clinical guidelines.

– Sarunas Narbutas, YCE Co-Founder

The study explains:

Patient experience, emotional support and convenience of care were relatively neglected fields in the reviewed guidelines. Patient engagement was rarely presented in the guideline development phase.” and goes on to say “Even if patient-centricity is a leading paradigm in cancer policy, based on our research it is not yet standard practice to include patients or patient organisations at all appropriate levels of decision-making processes that are related to their health and well-being. Patient engagement should be an integral part of cancer care decision-making.”  

View the full article here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2017.00698/full or click here to download a PDF version.

“The impact of cancer does not stop when treatment does or once the disease is no longer deemed active. For many young cancer survivors, support is needed for them to reintegrate back into academic or working life. In many countries longitudinal support for patients is poor and “joined up” follow-up care is often a pipe dream.”

Check out the September 5, 2017 article by Nick Smallwood in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal), an international peer reviewed medical journal, written about the Vilnius YCE meeting, titled Young cancer patients advocate for improved care here: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2017/09/05/nick-smallwood-young-cancer-patients-advocate-for-improved-and-equitable-care

You can also read the article in PDF format here in case the above link doesn’t work.

In August this year we landed in Vilnius for our latest annual meeting. Over 100 attendees from 22 countries, which included cancer patients and survivors, charity workers, policy makers, patient advocates and industry figures, gathered over the course of three days of presentations, forums and panel discussions to set the Youth Cancer Europe agenda for 2018.

Fostering direct contact between different collectives, and ensuring that the voices of patients and survivors become a key part of how treatment and after-care is shaped across the continent were a major part of the discussions. Over the weekend, the sessions included examples of best practice from all over Europe, highlighting the sometimes enormous differences in quality of care offered to young patients across countries; a key issue that Youth Cancer Europe is fighting to change. Panel discussions with inspirational speakers on public policy encouraged young patients and survivors to get directly involved in policy-making and lobbying in their own countries.

Attendees were also treated to a social programme that included evening visits to some of the top landmarks in Vilnius and surrounding area, such as the Vilnius TV tower or the stunning Trakai Island.

Countries represented in the Youth Cancer Europe 2017 annual meeting included Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and United Kingdom.

“I am very confident that young people can contribute on a professional level, speak with the same voice that health politicians want to hear and speak with the same competence and dignity [of] that [of] the health professionals, but in doing so there remains their own personal touch with the disease. One example [is] me living with cancer for eight years now and taking pills every day, I see that through young patients’ voice you can make a big change. It should not be localized or nationalized, it is the time for it to go global. Let’s start from something and Youth Cancer Europe is a very a timely initiative that I believe will tackle a lot of imminent needs and I believe it will attract a lot of support.”

Sarunas Narbutas – Lithuania

  • Advisor to the President of the Republic of Lithuania,
  • Lecturer on EU and International Law at Vilnius University,
  • PhD Candidate (Networked Governance),
  • President of the Lithuanian Cancer Patient Society,
  • Cancer survivor

“[Institutions] like medical and pharma are in need of an organization that connect all of the other NGOs all around Europe, not only Western Europe but also Eastern Europe, and not only NGOs but also connect patients with clinical trials, with other doctors from other countries and connect doctors between them. And I think that what I see as being done is exactly what [is needed] on the European level right now.”

Emanuel Schipor – Romania

  • Student at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Cluj-Napoca
  • Patient Support Volunteer
  • Assistant to Little People hospital psychologist, Institute of Oncology in Cluj-Napoca
  • Cancer survivor

“Not only do we need to empower survivors to look after themselves better, but we also need their help. As a medical research community we need the survivors to tell us what are the important questions that we need to be doing research on in the future.”

Kathy Pritchard-Jones, MBCh, Ph.d.MD – United Kingdom

  • Professor of Paediatric Oncology University College London
  • Institute of Child Health
  • Steering Committee member of ENCCA (European Network Cancer research in Children and Adolescents)

“I think survivors also should be able to express their voice and be part of the decision making process.”

Florin Barnea – Romania

  • Business owner and lead designer of Digital Etiquette
  • Student at the Faculty of Philosophy and Political Sciences, Iasi
  • Cancer survivor

“I think that the idea is very much welcome and I hope that we will be able to collaborate together and go for it strategically”

Dr. Riccardo Haupt, MD – Italy

  • Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Hematology and Olcology Institute Giannina Gaslini Genova, Italy
  • Founding member of PanCare

“I think that anything that gets young people with this experience to connect and share experiences and learn from each other is a good thing.”

Lars Hjorth, M.D lose belly fat fast. Ph.D. – Denmark

  • Consultant Paediatric Oncology and Hematology Department of Paediatrics, Skane University Hospital
  • Chairperson PanCare
  • Coordinator PanCareSurfUp

“It’s extremely important that all adults who went through cancer when they were young, get together, share, explain, help the new ones and help us.”

Gilles Vassal M.D. Ph.D. – France

  • Professor of Oncology in University Paris-Sud
  • Head of Clinical Research at Gustave Roussy Institute
  • President of SIOPE (European Society of Pediatric Oncolgy)
  • Founder of ENCCA (European Network Cancer research in Children and Adolescents) and ITTC

“I definitely think that a united voice is much stronger and at the very least it shows that young people are not facing these issues alone”

Mathew J. Cooke – United Kingdom

  • Phd Candidate (Politics), University of Cambridge
  • Member, NHS England’s Teenage and Young People Cancer Clinical Reference Group
  • Member, NCRI Teenage and Young Adult Clinical Studies Group
  • Cancer survivor

“Here it does not matter who you are, it matters what you’ve been through, and it matters that you are willing to share and that you stand on equal grounds with the rest of the participants. So yes, I definitely believe that Youth Cancer Europe is the perfect forum for young people with cancer to develop their full potential.”

Karina Kopriva – Romania

  • Political Science Graduate, BBU, Cluj-Napoca
  • Consultant on external affairs, Little People Romania and Republic of Moldova