The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI Committee) Health Working Group held a meeting on 18 February in Brussels to discuss ‘Cancer prevention – modifiable risks’. The meeting was co-chaired by MEP Sara Cerdas and MEP Dolores Montserrat.
The ENVI Committee is the largest committee in the European Parliament working towards generating the legislative framework to achieve carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050 as well as work in other policy priorities such as public health, food safety, biodiversity, circular economy, etc.
SIOP Europe President Professor Pamela Kearns spoke at this event and presented the challenge of understanding modifiable risk factors in paediatric oncology and the potential role EU initiatives in addressing this.
Pam Kearns explained that: “Although lifestyle changes are identified that can help to reduce the risk of adults developing cancer, there are currently no known alterable risk factors to prevent most childhood cancers. High dose ionizing radiation and prior chemotherapy are accepted causes of childhood cancers. Since no other environmental (exposures originating outside the body) risk factors have emerged as definitive causes for childhood cancers, genetic predisposition is the major known cause of childhood cancer. There is therefore critical need for more research on predisposition and oncogenic drivers.”
The key message highlighted was the need to understand the causes of paediatric cancers and address prevention where possible. This is in fact part of the 7 scientific and clinical objectives within the SIOPE Strategic Plan. To address this need, the SIOP Europe Host Genome Working Group was launched in May 2019.
It was an important opportunity to raise awareness amongst MEPs in the Health Committee of the specific policy and funding needs in the paediatric cancer sector where prevention is concerned.