Debate: Do we have the time and money?
If we want to have the time and money to treat cancer in ten years time, then we must carry out much more research into how to design our healthcare system in the future. 160 international researchers therefore meet up in Aarhus on 20-22 May to focus on the role of general practice in cancer initiatives.
By Peter Vedsted, Professor, the Research Unit for General Practice, Aarhus University.
Cancer treatment is doing better and better in Denmark.
More people survive cancer, more people receive better treatment and also better follow-up on the late effects of treatment – and if we should die from cancer, there is focus on the best possible palliative care. Nevertheless, we are lagging behind in a number of areas and we need the latest knowledge to improve.
A projection from the Danish Cancer Society shows that within the next 10 years we will see a 20-30 per cent increase in incidences of cancer. This places considerable demands on how the healthcare system needs to be designed and it also underlines the importance of having a well-functioning primary sector. Cancer is already the most common cause of death and requires many resources in relation to the entire process from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and the subsequent period.
Everyone agrees that general practice plays an extremely large role in all parts of these processes.
And that is why 160 international researchers meet in Aarhus on 20-22 May.
Here they focus on the role of general practice in cancer initiatives and discuss the newest knowledge. Special focus is placed on how we should meet the challenge of many more cancer cases.
During the last 15-20 years Denmark has experienced an increasing focus on cancer diseases. In the 1990s it became clear that when it came to cancer, Denmark was no longer among the best. More people were dying of cancer, the follow-up was not optimal, and the palliative treatment of people dying from cancer could be improved.
This led to three national cancer plans involving the expansion of hospital equipment, better medicine and later on, more focus on diagnostic, rehabilitation, and care for the dying (palliation).
General practice and the entire primary sector plays a particularly important role in all of these areas. We must increase our diagnosis of cancer, we must take care of many people with more diseases who are also undergoing comprehensive cancer treatment, we must ensure a good quality of life for many more people, and finally, many more people will need to receive palliative treatment in the last part of their lives.
If this is to be possible, and if we are to have the time and money to treat cancer in ten years time, then we must carry out much more research into how we should design our healthcare system in the future.
- This article was published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on Wednesday 20 May 2015.