The reflection of Silvio Monfardini, past president of the Italian and European Association of Medical Oncology and of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology: our country lacks a structured coordination between the various actors involved in the fight against cancer
In Italy, there is no structured coordination between the various actors involved in cancer research: there are 10 Oncology Institutes for Scientific Treatment (Irccs), general hospitals, research bodies, universities, government agencies (such as the Istituto Superiore di Sanit and the National Research Council-Cnr). And then also the immense world of the third sector, with hundreds of different voluntary associations, has an important role in supporting research. It is not surprising that there are so many actors given the human and social weight of the cancer problem (in our country alone there are over 370 thousand new diagnoses every year), but the lack of true coordination between them too often exposes the risk of duplication or ( vice versa) to neglect important areas and leads to an excessive dispersion of resources. On the contrary, better organizing the work of the various protagonists would help to collect, and then better redistribute, the economic funds, as well as to optimally divide the tasks and efforts of the researchers, without forgetting any area of research (for example patients with certain rare neoplasms) and without waste or excessive investments (of money, but also of people) in more popular areas.
The successes of the research
From the first Institute for the research and treatment of Tumors, born in Milan in 1925, institutes, hospitals, universities and research institutions have multiplied which have been dedicated both to treating the sick and to carrying out scientific studies that have led to so many advances on the fronts of prevention, early diagnosis and therapies. Thus, even if we cannot expect to solve the cancer problem within a few generations, today, compared to 30 years ago, patients are cured in a higher percentage or can hope to live longer, even if the disease has not disappeared and became chronic, and with a much better quality of life than in the past. These results were obtained with a continuous and incessant effort of the activity carried out in the research centers. The oncological scientific production of Italian researchers of a good level is important, even if compared to other European countries the funding is lower.
A National Institute
Thus, for example, abroad (in the United States and in Europe) we moved to have an organizational direction: the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) precisely because of its centralized structure aimed at embracing all cancer research, with the possibility of large targeted funding, has achieved results that have gradually changed clinical practice in numerous cancers for the better. France has a number of highly respected regional centers and individual institutes, but an agency has also been set up here (Institut National du Cancer, the INCa) to coordinate and stimulate cancer research. A National Cancer Institute in our country could therefore take the form of an Independent Agency under the aegis of the Ministries of Health and Research (MIUR). It should be established and led by Italian clinical and experimental cancer researchers. Its purpose should be to plan, guide, coordinate, finance and supervise all cancer research in Italy, with the following advantages: strategic planning, allowing continuity of action; coordination to avoid duplication and gaps; possible attraction of private funds; assigning grants to projects; implementation of a single platform for access to funding for European Union research projects.
November 23, 2021 (change November 23, 2021 | 19:10)