AIOM XVIII National Congress: Institutions, the world of health and business work together to fight cancer
«In Italy, there are more than three million patients with cancer, a third of whom were successfully cured. These results push the Italian Association of Medical Oncology to do more and more for the prevention and fight against this disease». Stefania Gori, President-elect of AIOM, released this statement during the inaugural ceremony of the XVIII Congress of the Association and it summarises efficiently the determination with which the Association conducts its battle against cancer.
Two thousand oncologists, two hundred nurses, dozens of associations of patients, the main pharmaceutical companies producing oncological drugs and the highest level of Government representatives have marked the first day of work, also characterised by the inaugural session which was attended by the Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin.
In her speech, the minister stressed, not only in economic terms, the value of the allocation of 500 million € to the new fund for innovative cancer drugs, provided by the law of stability.
«There is a possibility that these resources – continued Lorenzin – will also be earmarked for 2018 and 2019; they will play a crucial role in making the innovative oncology drugs available to patients».
«These are seven highly innovative drugs – explained Carmine Pinto, national president of AIOM during the press conference that preceded the inauguration – including immuno-oncology treatments that can boost the immune system against cancer, and molecules that affect specific tumour cell targets. The decision to establish this fund is critical, both for its impact on patient care, and because it brings us closer to realising the “Pact against cancer”, a project that will dramatically change the model of care and the lives of millions of patients».
«We are experiencing a real ” renaissance of science “- commented Lorenzin- and the world of medicine is evolving so fast that we can not base the fight against cancer only on the economic resources. To manage the future changes, we will have to adapt the healthcare processes, including those that concern the new treatments funding, just as quickly».
«The attention of AIOM – continued Pinto – is primarily focused on the future and, in particular, on the prevention. Italy ranks near the bottom for investment among 34 OECD countries, with only 4.2% of total health expenditure, which causes severe adverse consequences: 76.5% of the adult population have at least one risk behaviour (smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption). The impact of this policy on oncological diseases is quite dangerous: many studies have shown that 40% of cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle that too few Italians have chosen to adopt. The most obvious example is the habit to tobacco smoke: 22% of citizens with more than 15 years smoke. Since 25-30% of all cancers are related to smoking, tobacco control continues to be a priority.
For this reason, AIOM decided to launch the first “Festival of prevention in oncology innovation” to explain Italians the new oncology course that ranges from healthier lifestyles to screening, to innovative weapons like immuno-oncology. The event, sponsored by Bristol-Meyers Squibb will start in November and will reach 11 cities in Italy, with a series of events that will last three days and during which a group of young oncologists will explain the rules of prevention, the importance of screening and the impact of new therapeutic weapons.
The ISTAT figures – said Pinto – show that in 2013, the number of deaths from cancer decreased for the first time over the previous year. 1,000 fewer deaths tell us that we can win this struggle: it’s up to all of us working together and finding ways to do it.