Together We Can: Our Commitment to End Cancer
Every one of us is touched by cancer in some way. A partner, a relative, a friend, or a co-worker may be living with cancer or have lost their battle to the disease. Whatever our respective link may be, we know cancer remains one of the most dreaded diagnoses.
Today, as we mark World Cancer Day we reflect on how far we’ve come and what lies ahead in our determination to beat cancer. As one of the leading oncology companies, our vision at Janssen is to intercept, treat and ultimately prevent cancer. We’re looking at a range of innovative approaches to do this, and every day we’re building on our 30-year legacy in oncology research in our quest to combat both solid tumours and blood cancers.
This is particularly poignant in Asia which accounts for 50% of cancer cases worldwide. What’s more, late diagnosis, access to treatment, and the need for policy makers to recognize cancer as a priority are clear barriers to battling the disease in the region. For example, the incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer in Asia are expected to double by 2030.2,3 Asian men tend to get diagnosed in later stages of the disease, leading to poorer prognosis.4 Yet prostate cancer remains a low priority on the healthcare agendas of most countries in the region.5
The formation of the independent Prostate Cancer Patient Coalition – Asia PacificTM demonstrates the supportive role we can play in helping bring together advocates, patients and communities so they can share experiences and expertise and harness the power of many voices to make a difference to those living with prostate cancer and their families. The Coalition includes representatives from Australia, China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and one of its first activities in 2017 during Movember, the month dedicated to awareness around men’s health, was the launch of the Prostate Cancer Asia Pacific Whitepaper Report – A united voice for change.
Another example in our efforts to understand better the unmet needs of patients in Asia Pacific is the United in Fighting for Prostate Cancer (UFO) registry that we launched. It aims to assess the outcomes of different treatment options in a real world setting for Asian patients, including efficacy, safety and patient reported outcomes related to quality of life. This will help us develop solutions that are even more tailored to patients in Asia.
Beyond prostate cancer, our commitment extends to two more areas of unmet need in oncology, where we believe we can make the greatest difference: haematological malignancies and lung cancer.
In haematology, we have focused on ground breaking science, strong partnerships and medical education across Asia Pacific. From our collaboration with patient groups like Lymphoma Australia and the Max Foundation to make visible the needs of patients, to our nurse programs focussed on holistic patient care, to real-world evidence generation, we are working to better address blood cancers in our region. The Academy for Cancer Education (ACE), which spans haematology and prostate cancer, provides continuous medical education for physicians and nurses, focusing on the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to treatment that aim to raise the standard of care in our region. We are also working with regulators on the future of blood cancer treatment, shaping together new approval pathways for targeted therapies with companion diagnostics providing more personalized treatment. And most recently, we announced a strategic collaboration and license agreement with China’s Legend Biotech to develop investigational CAR-T anti-cancer therapy that could potentially transform the treatment of multiple myeloma.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women across the world, with an extremely low five-year survival rate. In China, where lifestyle and environmental factors like smoking and pollution are contributing to the increase in prevalence, we are responding. One of the focus areas of the Janssen China Discovery Centre is lung cancer research following a patient-centric approach. We’ve formed a broad collaboration network with key hospitals and academic centres to obtain new insights on the disease via phase-0 studies, paving the way to potential new drug discovery programs.
To both of us, all these efforts are about making an impact in individual patients’ lives. We often discuss case histories that have had an impact on us, and recently we reflected on Max volunteering at a public hospital in Argentina as a young oncologist.
It’s the story of Jose, a young man and father to six beautiful kids, who lost his cancer battle after a late diagnosis of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and a failed clinical trial. The haunting memory of the faces of those six kids as Jose promised to take care of them in his dying days and the sense of failure that comes with the loss of life never fades. But the story also inspires us to do more for all the Joses out there. As colleagues, as a company and together with patients, we are dedicated to ending the cancer crisis and eliminating this disease once and for all.