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The European Union and personalised cancer medicine

The European Union and personalised cancer medicine

Two recent policy documents by the European Union, ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’ and its accompanying ‘Conquering Cancer: Mission Possible’ (CCMP), articulate broad policies aimed at reducing cancer mortality across Europe, for example, by promoting prevention and early detection.

The focus for cancer treatment in these manifestos is the expansion of personalised cancer medicine (PCM). However, the CCMP document suggests that the uptake of PCM is “hampered by uncertainty about its outcomes”.

What are these outcomes and why this uncertainty? We address the limits of PCM in pathology-driven and pathology-agnostic PCM, briefly discussing the results of umbrella and basket trials. We suggest that the complexity, plasticity and genetic heterogeneity of advanced cancers will continue to thwart the impact of PCM, limiting it to specific pathologies, or rare subsets of them.

Caution regarding the advancement of PCM is justified, and policymakers should be wary of the hype of lobbyists, who do not acknowledge the limits of PCM.