Timely access to optimal treatment has great promise for significantly improving outcomes for cancer patients. For instance, the early diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer provides a 99% chance of 5-year survival – yet in later stages, the odds drop to just 27%. As well, the length of time it takes for cancer treatments to reach patients is vitally important to European and national cancer policies, including Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.
Current political debates around access cancer medicines often overlook the interplay of factors that cause suboptimal treatment rates. Ineligibility requirements, late diagnostic testing, treatment delays, poorly defined clinical guidelines, and resource constraints worsen a patient’s access to timely and adequate treatments.
How can we ensure that patients are diagnosed promptly and can access treatment in a timely manner? Why does reimbursement not always correlate to access to innovative treatments across Europe? How should we prioritize treatment rates in cancer plans?