An new initiative to boost cancer prevention, treatment and care across Europe by improving communications has been described by one its leaders as ‘EuroGoogle for cancer’.
Professor Gordon McVie, the Scottish joint leader of the project and a senior consultant at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, told E-Health Europe that the website intends to be a “one-stop-shop” for researchers and doctors to patients interested in cancer
McVie said: “We’re going to try very hard over the next two years to get every cancer related database, website, project, result from clinical trials and much more on the site. We also intend to set up social networking schemes for patients, for example, showing them guidelines for cancer and then seeing how close those guidelines represent the process that they have been through.”
The website, eurocancercomms, is funded by a €1.2m grant from the European Commission’s F7 programme and is an initiative of the European Institute of Oncology.
The project is led by the European Cancer Organisation and the online open access medical journal that McVie is founding editor of, ecancermedicalscience.
McVie said that despite the UK punching above its weight in terms of research and countries like Hungary producing strong clinical research, survival rates for cancer are “unacceptably variable” across Europe and the members of the EU are failing to prevent as many cancer related deaths as America.
“The European dilemma is that we do some things exceptionally well and others we are terrible at. People are paying for great research through support and taxes and are not getting the results back that they need,” he added.
Last year, a study titled Eurocan+Plus identified poor communication between all those involved in cancer care as one of the main reasons for such poor outcomes compared to the US.
McVie said: “Cancer is very splintered in Europe, the technical people, charities, patient groups, researchers are split up into much smaller groups, in order to link those up we need better connectivity and communication, which is what this website intends to do.”
Professor Richard Sullivan, who is part of King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Care at King’s College London and the project manager for eurocancercomms, said: “This will be the first time that lots of very large groups involved in cancer in Europe have come together to improve cancer communications.
“We need to understand twenty first century communications, particularly electronic communications. At the moment the way we communicate with patients is still the classical method of putting leaflets in doctors’ surgeries. But patients are not picking these up any more, they are going online and finding information on the web and through social networking sites.”
The website will be available to all European countries, including those outside the European Union and although it is only available in English at present there are hopes there will be a project for translation at a later stage.