Today’s cancer treatments are becoming increasingly complex. While the idea behind surgery is relatively simple – cut out the tumour – many of the new cancer treatments are based on more complex strategies. The complexity of these approaches can leave some people with cancer feeling left behind – as if everyone in the hospital room understands their treatment except them. This can often mean that people with cancer are not able to act as equal and informed partners in their health care.
One of the most complicated types of therapies for cancer is immuno-oncology therapy. While traditional chemotherapy aims at damaging the tumour while minimising damage to the person, immuno-oncology uses a very different strategy: to activate and train the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Immuno-oncology treatments have shown very promising results and are now available to treat several different cancers.
The European Cancer Patient Coalition, together with Flywheel training and communications (flywheelpartners.com), has designed an Immuno-Oncology Portal aimed at educating people with cancer about immune oncology treatments. The Portal is written for people with no prior knowledge of cancer or cancer treatment, and contains practical information, as well as interactive graphics that illustrate how the treatments work.
The Immuno-Oncology Portal is an online information platform on cancer immunotherapies and immuno-oncology treatments for cancer patients across Europe. The Portal aims to provide up-to-date, accessible information about cancer immunotherapy to people with all forms of cancer, as well as their caregivers and family members. The Immuno-Oncology Portal also aims to help general practitioners and policy makers improve their knowledge and raise awareness of the potential of immuno-oncology treatments. It also aims to act as a pan-European advocacy hub by providing groups with advocacy tools and information on cancer treatments.
The Immuno-Oncology Portal contains four main components:
- Two interactive educational modules on cancer immunotherapies, explaining how the immune system can be helpful to fight cancer, the several types of cancer immunotherapies, and the risks and benefits of treatment. The modules are currently available in English, Italian and Greek, and will also be available in Polish, Spanish, French and Dutch by the end of 2017.
- A patient-friendly clinical trial search engine, allowing people with cancer to easily find nearby clinical trials that are currently recruiting patients with their type of cancer. Currently available in English.
- A list of all cancer treatments authorised by the European Medicines Agency. This list includes immuno-oncology treatments as well as other types of medicines. Currently available in English.
- A printable immuno-oncology brochure written for people with cancer, available in 23 European languages.
Since the Immuno-Oncology Portal was launched in November 2015, it has collected thousands of visits, affirming itself as one of the European Cancer Patient Coalition’s most viewed pages.
The immuno-oncology portal can be found at: iop.ecpc.org
Lydia Makaroff is the Director of the European Cancer Patient Coalition. She has ten years’ international experience in non-communicable disease research and policy development in academia, the pharmaceutical industry, and the non-profit sector. She is committed to monitoring national governments’ commitments to non-communicable diseases, producing advocacy tools for national associations, and designing policies to improve access to medicines and reduce health inequalities.