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Eliminate Cancer Initiative is ‘reason for hope’ says Tessa Jowell

26 January, 2018

Labour peer and former government minister, Tessa Jowell, addressed the House of Lords yesterday (25 January), pledging support for the Eliminate Cancer Initiative (ECI), a global programme to eliminate cancer as a lethal disease.

Dame Tessa, who discovered last year that she had developed a brain tumour, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), told fellow peers that although the UK has the worst cancer survival rate in western Europe, especially in terms of brain tumours where diagnosis can be too slow, the establishment of the ECI has provided “reason for hope”.

“GBM strikes less than 3000 people in England every year. It generally has a very poor prognosis. But less than two per cent of cancer research funding in the UK is spent on brain tumours. No vital new drugs have been developed in the last 50 years,” Dame Tessa said.

ECI helps collaboration across diverse sectors from patients and doctors, to governments, academia and industry. Its mission is to engage the world’s premier cancer centres and research institutions to work together.

Tessa Jowell said, “A global mix of programme and campaign, ECI is already underway in Australia. It is designed to be rolled out next in the UK, the USA and China. This recognises that no one nation can solve the problem of GBM on its own.”

“It’s all about sharing knowledge at every level between everyone involved. If we achieve this, we will go a long way to crack GBM and other cancers too. I hope this debate will give hope to other cancer patients like me. So that we can live well with cancer, not just be dying of it.”

ECI’s objectives are to:

  • Link patients and doctors across the world through a clinical trials network
  • Speed up the use of adaptive trials
  • Build a global data base to improve research and patient care. 

“New adaptive trials can test many treatments at the same time. They speed up the process and save a lot of money. ECI also has a secure cloud platform where doctors can share data and insights,” Dame Tessa said.

“Cancer is a tough challenge to all health systems, and particularly to our cherished NHS. Many cancer patients collaborate and support each other every day. They create that community of love and determination wherever they find each other.

"All we now ask is that doctors and health systems learn to do the same. Learn from each other.”

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