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EC launches cancer imaging initiative to accelerate innovation and early diagnosis

Researchers will have better access to high-quality resources and databases

European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has launched a project to facilitate the sharing of cancer imaging data across the EU in an effort to accelerate innovation and early detection of the disease.

The European Cancer Imaging Initiative will create a digital infrastructure to enable researchers to have access to more high-quality resources and databases to study and advance understanding of the disease.

EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the initiative will "provide vital information for the next generation of cancer diagnostics and treatment and help make screening more precise, timely and accessible”.

“Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) [which could be trained using the large data set] still offer enormous, untapped potential to continue delivering tremendous benefits in health – particularly when it comes to cancer detection, treatment and care,” Kyriakides said at the launch event.

It is expected that the design of the digital infrastructure will be complete and the collaboration mechanisms established by December this year.

Data providers will then be able to connect with this new European federated platform, with the first version set to be released by the end of 2024 and the final version by the end of 2025.

EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said: “Digital technologies and AI are key in our battle against cancer. The driver behind these technologies is high-quality data. With the European Cancer Imaging Initiative, we will unlock a wealth of data and transform it into innovative cancer care solutions.”

The initiative is part of the wider European Cancer Plan, presented by the EC in February 2021.

With a total of €4bn being earmarked for actions addressing cancer, the plan is divided into four key areas: prevention, early detection, better access to treatment, and improved quality of life for patients and survivors.

As part of the plan’s prevention goals, the EC is aiming to offer access to breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening to 90% of eligible Europeans.

“Our recommendations are to gradually bring in screening for lung, prostate and, under certain circumstances, gastric cancer, based on further research,” Kyriakides said at the imaging initiative launch event.

These six cancer types make up over half of all cancer cases and cancer deaths in the EU.

“As European guidelines and quality assurance schemes are updated, the use of the new evidence-based screening tests will be further refined,” Kyriakides said. “The European Cancer Imaging Initiative we launch today will play a major role in this.”

Article by
Emily Kimber

24th January 2023

From: Research

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