Experiences of cancer survivors in Europe: Has anything changed? Can artificial intelligence offer a solution?

Published on 04/10/2022


The INCISIVE team working on the user requirement definition, led by Shereen Nabhani-Gebara, Associate Professor of Oncology Pharmacy at the Kingston University London, published the article ‘Experiences of cancer survivors in Europe: Has anything changed? Can artificial intelligence offer a solution?’ in the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention section of Frontiers in Oncology.

INCISIVE researchers conducted a qualitative study that consisted of 40 in-depth interviews with cancer survivors from five European countries: Greece, Italy, Serbia, Cyprus, and Spain. The article includes verbatim excerpts from patients diagnosed with breast, colorectal, prostate, or lung cancer at least six months before the interview.

The results of the study revealed that cancer survivors experienced significant burdens on cancer diagnosis and treatment. Specifically, five key common themes were identified:

  • Perceived challenges during the cancer journey:
    • Delays during the diagnostic phase and treatment.
    • Emotional distress endured during the diagnostic phase.
    • Treatment burden: mainly psychological difficulties such as anxiety, stress, and trauma due to the side effects.
  • The importance of accurate and prompt diagnosisto alleviate the anxiety and stress experienced.
  • Perceived need for improving the accuracy of cancer diagnosisto reduce the risk of misdiagnosis and its impact on patients’ prognosis and wellbeing.
  • Absence of well-established/designated support serviceswithin the pathway: patients agreed that the support received from the healthcare professionals was limited to queries related to the process and treatment.
  • Suggestions to improve the cancer care pathway: they provided some recommendations, such as the desire to reduce waiting times for cancer diagnosis and provision of more resources, mainly in terms of workforce and modern equipment.

According to Nabhani-Gebara, “the most interesting part of our article is that there are many shared difficulties across the cancer journey in the five European countries. The delayed diagnosis was one of the main problems across all countries, precipitating significant physical and psychological impacts on the patients. This highlights the importance and potential impact of INCISIVE in addressing these bottlenecks by enhancing the diagnostic process”. Thus, the article concludes that some of the uncovered aspects from cancer survivors’ perspectives could be optimised using AI technology to speed up the diagnostic process and increase diagnostic accuracy.

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