My Speech at Plenary, Cancer debate

Madam President, what makes cancer so dangerous is that it is such a complex disease. Tumours that come under the same umbrella are often quite different. There are many different kinds of breast cancer, but they’re still called breast cancer. Hodgkin’s lymphoma attacks young lives, not old, and it is 95% curable, which is wonderful. But other cancers are still an automatic death sentence. In addition, genetic instability means that tumours go through an evolutionary process which means they can quickly become resistant to treatments that were working. But we know that one in three cancers might be curable, so we need to do more.

Advancements in genomic research are allowing research on tumour mutations to move quickly. Further studies in epigenetics are allowing researchers to look deeper, beyond DNA, and to combine the medical data with critical information about the kind of external and environmental factors that have been mentioned here today.

We must seize the opportunities created by these advancements in biomedicine, bioinformatics, big data and artificial intelligence to help us in this fight. So I call on Ursula van der Leyen to make the fight against cancer an absolute priority of the next Commission, in scientific research as well as in the medical area.