Initial research of lung cancer from the study, which will run into early 2019 with in-depth country research and workshops, will be presented by the Economist Intelligence Unit at the European Cancer Forum in Brussels, which is hosted by MSD. The audience of policy-makers, academics, healthcare professionals, industry, and patient representatives, will provide the first sounding-board for the study findings, and help focus the next phase of research. The EIU will be looking to understand whether countries are advancing, innovating and seizing the opportunities to save lives.

Already, the study points to seven key findings from the 13 countries:

1. For the past 15 years, the number of new lung cancer cases has been highest in the Netherlands and the lowest in Sweden. The number of deaths caused by lung cancer is highest in Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Greece – but the numbers have gone down significantly in the past 15 years. Finland has made significant progress and now has the lowest death rate. All other countries have made little to no growth in the past 15 years.

2.We have seen an average increase in the percentage of patients who are still alive five years after diagnosis, from 12%to only 17% over 15 years. The average survival rate for all cancers combined is 50-60%. Austria, Sweden, and Norway have the highest survival rates for lung cancer, with the lowest survival rates occurring in Romania, Finland, and the United Kingdom.

3.Lung cancer is a strategic priority in those countries with (lung) cancer control plans and guidelines: Sweden and France score best here, while Finland has some catching up to do.

4.Since smoking is the primary risk factor for lung cancer, with around 80% of lung cancers linked to smoking, public health programs around tobacco control and smoking cessation, including regulation of e-cigarettes, are particularly important. The study shows that Finland and Norway lead in this area, while Romania has little in place.

5. Regarding treatment, the study notes whether patients are getting treatment, tumor testing is available and reimbursed, and new, innovative medicines are reimbursed. Of the four most commonly used biomarkers for lung cancer, screening for all four is only refunded in a minority of countries.

6.Only Sweden and Poland have a specific lung cancer plan/section of the National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP), and only four states (Austria, France, Romania, and Greece) have updated their NCCP in the last five years.

7.Only half of the countries have started or are involved in a trial to investigate whether or how screening could be introduced.

Economist Intelligence Unit study

"The country benchmarking and in-country analyses in this study point us in the direction of how to achieve better outcomes," said Alfonso Aguarón on behalf of Lung Cancer Europe. "Policymakers should see these results and be encouraged to take the findings of the report forward. It is time for more awareness around the burden of this disease for patients, their family, and friends. It is about time these patients get noticed."

Deepak Khanna commented: "All stakeholders should accelerate implementing policies which contribute to better outcomes. As a biopharmaceutical research company, we are working with governments across Europe to ensure patients have timely access to our innovative cancer medicines, to help extend and improve the lives of patients with lung cancer."