The Health Policy Partnership (HPP) held a session titled ‘Radioligand therapy: Multidisciplinary collaboration for health system readiness’ at the 13th European Multidisciplinary Congress on Urological Cancers (EMUC).
The in-person meeting, which took place on 25 November in Athens, Greece, considered the importance of multidisciplinary working for the use of radioligand therapy in prostate cancer, and the need to ensure health systems are ready should the therapy be approved.
Professor Hein Van Poppel (European Association of Urology) chaired the session. He began with an overview of the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to prostate cancer care in general, before discussing how radioligand therapy is a truly multidisciplinary treatment approach.
Professor Van Poppel then introduced Dr John Buscombe (Barts Health NHS Trust and the British Nuclear Medicine Society), who gave a comprehensive outline of what radioligand therapy is, summarised the lessons that can be learnt from the use of the therapy in neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) and lymphoma, and highlighted some of the challenges on the horizon should the therapy be approved for prostate cancer in the future. Dr Buscombe emphasised the issue of equitable access to the therapy for people with NENs and stressed that this issue would be exacerbated if radioligand therapy were approved for a common cancer such as prostate cancer.
‘With careful investment, we can achieve equitable access. This will be a challenge, but it must be overcome. We really do need to get ready.’
Dr John Buscombe
Dr Erik Briers (Europa Uomo) then spoke about what radioligand therapy could mean for people with prostate cancer. Dr Briers discussed the issues with availability of the therapy and with regulation. He highlighted the need for collaboration, not only within the health community but between sectors. He also emphasised the importance of robust evidence and the need for the medical community to share such evidence, so that we can learn about radioligand therapy for prostate cancer as quickly as possible.
Christine Ridout (HPP) gave an overview of the Radioligand Therapy Readiness Assessment Framework, a tool created by HPP in collaboration with a multidisciplinary international Expert Advisory Group. She emphasised why readiness for radioligand therapy is important and how the framework can be used to assess readiness. She also outlined some of the challenges to readiness for radioligand therapy in prostate cancer, as found by the application of the framework to the UK and US, and how many of these challenges will be similar across Europe. She went on to discuss how the EU can play a key role in ensuring readiness for radioligand therapy through sharing best practice, advocating for better support of multidisciplinary working, harmonising training and licensing standards across Europe, and improving data collection.
Ms Ridout went on to moderate a multidisciplinary panel discussion on how the clinical community can create a ready system for radioligand therapy. The panel included Professor Jolanta Kunikowska (European Association of Nuclear Medicine) who represented the nuclear medicine perspective, Professor Boris Hadaschik (Essen University Hospital) representing urology, Professor Gert De Meerleer (UZ Leuven) representing radiation oncology and Dr Briers representing the patient perspective. The discussion focused on key considerations to ensure readiness for radioligand therapy if it gets approved for prostate cancer. The most important point highlighted was the need for collaboration and ensuring a multidisciplinary approach to care.
The panellists discussed issues with infrastructure, both physical and workforce. Professor Kunikowska explained that, if radioligand therapy gets approved for prostate cancer, there will be a need to expand the nuclear medicine workforce – something that must be planned in advance. She went on to highlight that the European Association of Nuclear Medicine is currently implementing training programmes to help with this. Meanwhile, Professor Hadaschik expressed the need for in-house imaging infrastructure.
Another key discussion point was putting patients first, and communicating effectively with people with prostate cancer about treatment options. Dr Briers suggested that, to engage policymakers, we need to make sure we include patients and make it personal.
‘If radioligand therapy is approved for prostate cancer, we need to act fast. We need to work together with this promising therapy.’
HPP would like to thank all of the expert speakers and panellists for taking part in this session. We’d also like to thank EMUC for hosting us, and everyone who attended for joining us.