According to a new survey nine out of ten patients battling cancer in Europe have never heard of the major breakthrough in cancer treatment, known as anti-angiogenesis.
Yet, 70% of cancer specialists who took part in the survey believe that patients and their carers should know more about anti-angiogenic treatment as it marks the dawn of a new era in cancer treatment.
In fact, half of the cancer specialists surveyed believed that the use of anti-angiogenic therapy could lead to cancer becoming a treatable illness people can live with, not the death sentence it so often is.
Anti-angiogenic therapy is a new therapy that works by starving the tumour of its blood supply to stop its growth.
The first anti-angiogenic drug Avastin was launched a year ago for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, and is the only anti-angiogenic agent that has consistently demonstrated survival benefit in the three most common tumour types: colorectal cancer, breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Professor Nick Thatcher, Professor of Oncology, University of Manchester and Christie Hospital, UK, says the world is entering a new era in the treatment of cancer with the advent of innovative new cancer therapies and it's important that patients and their medical advisors understand the potential of these new treatments to extend life.
The survey was conducted amongst 500 cancer specialists and patients in the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany and revealed that patient awareness of new cancer treatments is low: 40 percent admitted to feeling completely uninformed about advances in technology which might help them overcome their disease.
This knowledge gap is of concern to both patient groups and physicians, who feel it is important that cancer patients are up-to-date on the latest technologies that may help them in their fight against the disease.
Dr. Jesme Baird, director of patient care at The Roy Castle Lung Foundation, part of the Global Lung Cancer Coalition, says the statistics expose a major information gap between cancer patients and physicians with regard to new advances in treatment.
Dr. Baird says dialogue between patient and physician is critical in order for an informed decision to be made.
The survey also showed that a majority of cancer specialists believe that access to new cancer therapies should be widened, particularly in light of physician and patient dissatisfaction with traditional chemotherapy agents.
Dr. Baird says as cancer patients depend so much on the development of new technology to offer hope of a better future, and everyone wants them to live long enough to enjoy it, it means that new treatments must be made available to those who need them.
A recent report published by the Karolinska Institutet, in conjunction with the Stockholm School of Economics, exposed stark inequalities in patient access to cancer treatment across Europe.
This research found that despite the proven benefits of new innovative treatments options, the speed at which patients can benefit from them depends to a great extent upon the country in which they live.