New initiative to improve cancer research communication

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new website has been launched that should help to improve communication between cancer researchers, doctors and patients across Europe.

Research has suggested that improving communication between those involved in cancer care could help European cancer patients achieve similar outcomes to their US counterparts.

US survival rates are better for many cancers, despite the fact that much of the leading research comes out of Europe.

The new website, www.eurocancercoms.eu, should help to boost cancer prevention, treatment and care by addressing this problem.

The project is led by the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) and the online journal ecancermedicalscience, and is an initiative of the European Institute of Oncology.

ECCO president Professor Alexander Eggermont revealed: "There is an urgent need in Europe to improve communications between everyone working in cancer and between them and patients.

"Cancer survival is unacceptably variable in different European countries. A previous study (EUROCAN+PLUS) identified poor communication between all those involved in cancer care as one of the main reasons for these poor outcomes.

"Eurocancercoms aims to address these problems by creating a 'one-stop shop' for the whole cancer community, from scientists to patients."

The website is funded by a EUR1.2 million grant from the European Commission and is expected to play a vital role in establishing a single, efficient network for communication about cancer.

Professor Richard Sullivan, from the King's Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre at King's College London and former head of clinical programmes at Cancer Research UK, has been tasked with managing the Eurocancercoms project and said that it provides a "unique opportunity" for cancer in Europe.

"It is a marvellous opportunity to understand what are the key issues in cancer communication and to create novel ways of getting information out to both the professionals and the patients," he enthused.

The scientist pointed out that people of all ages and demographic profiles use the internet and that it is important to understand 21st century communications.

"For instance, 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.

"People are changing and electronic resources are the future. We are working in a different world and the way that we work has to reflect this."

Professor Sullivan added that Eurocancercoms is "unique" because it will allow different sources of information to be brought together in a single network.

"It's ambitious, but we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think we could deliver," he added.

Some of the features of the new website include the ability to establish searchable databases for clinical trials and the possibility of identifying barriers to the dissemination of cancer research results.