Overcoming Cancer with Research - Making Successes Public

NEWSPress Conference 09.12.2010
Delicate balance for childhood cancer: Political action in Austria is required
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Press Conference 09.12.2010

Last Update on: 17.01.2011

Delicate balance for childhood cancer: Political action in Austria is required

From groundbreaking EC-funded science communication to the current needs and strategic development plans presented by St. Anna's doctors and researchers

Gruppenbild der Sprecherinnen

“Overcoming Cancer with Research”: the internationally renowned St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute (CCRI) and the project partners German Childhood Cancer Foundation, St. Anna Children’s Hospital (SAN) and Pammerfilm dedicated this message to an almost three-year EC-funded science communication project until the end of October 2010. The Austrian-German team of DIRECT, short for “DIsseminate Results from EC funded projects improved Therapy options in paediatric oncology”, applied manifold, strategically coordinated channels of science communication as efficient means to make the public aware of the relationship between the accomplishments of childhood cancer research and the impressively improved overall cure rates in children and adolescents with cancer in Europe over the past four decades.

A multilingual web portal, a brochure outlining the benefits of paediatric cancer research for European society, public events on life sciences and specific cancers in children, such as sarcomas, and the TV documentary “Young heroes – great opportunities. Childhood cancer research in Europe“ which is also available in English on DVD were important steps to sensitise the public with a lasting effect.


Univ. Doz. Dr. Michael Dworzak“DIRECT enabled us to develop efficient tools to inform media representatives, stakeholders and the general public about the specific needs of children with cancer and long-term survivors in an effective and sustainable way”


Senior physician, paediatric oncologist and researcher

Assoc.Prof. Dworzak, MD,

at the closing press conference of DIRECT




As a direct consequence of funding, in large parts by private donations as well as by public grants, such as the EC’s Framework Programmes, dramatic advances in paediatric cancer research were achieved. Over the past four decades, the 5-year-survival rates in young cancer patients have been raised from less than 20% to nearly 80% in industrialized European countries. This is attributed to the outstanding collaborative work of national and international networks performing clinical trials as well as to biomedical advances and progressive developments in chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.


In spite of these successes, cancer continues to be the number one lethal disease among children in Europe. More specialised research into the causes and special characteristics of paediatric leukaemia and malignant tumours which differ greatly from cancer in adults in many ways and which are very rare is required. “There are childhood cancers where we have cure rates of only 40 to 50 percent. It is clear that these figures must be increased substantially”, declared Assoc. Prof. Kovar, scientific director of the Viennese Children’s Cancer Research Institute.


Paediatric oncologists and researchers of CCRI and SAN reported on the positive outcomes of DIRECT to the press. In addition, they also revealed the prevailing gaps and urgent needs in the field of paediatric oncology to reach total cure for every child with any kind of cancer in Europe and ensure the continuity of child-cancer research, in particular in Austria and Germany.


The topics were the following:

  • Children and adolescents with cancer have the same human right of access as adults to standardised cancer treatments and medicines that are rapidly approved. To establish a durable, integrated clinical and translational network for children in Austria, appropriate basic funding must be provided by political decision-makters in partnership with the academic community and industry in Austria.
  • Needs and problems of adult childhood cancer survivors
  • Childhood cancer research in Austria: financed by private donations and competitive third-party funding obtained from national and international sources

The Participants

  • Prof. Helmut Gadner, MD, (head of the Children’s Cancer Research Institute, coordinator of the EC-project „DIRECT“)
  • Assoc.Prof. Michael Dworzak, MD, (deputy medical director of the St. Anna Children’s Hospital, researcher, project partner of „DIRECT“)
  • Assoc. Prof. Ruth Ladenstein, MD, MBA, cPM (senior physician at the St. Anna Children’s Hospital, president of SIOPE, European society for paediatric oncology, head of the coordination centre for clinical studies and statistics of the Children’s Cancer Research Institute)
  • Assoc. Prof. Heinrich Kovar, PhD, scientific director of the Children’s Cancer Research Institute, partner of the EC-project „ASSET“
  • Eva Frey, MD, (senior physician at the haemato-oncological ambulance of the St. Anna Children’s Hospital, partner of the EC-project „ASSET“)

Downloads & Audio

Press release in English

Pictures of the press conference

Press kit and book contribution by Assoc. Prof. Ruth Ladenstein, MD, can be downloaded as PDF-files (in German only)

Sound recordings (in german only)

Assoc. Prof. Ruth Ladenstein, MD, talks about rigorous EC regulations


Assoc. Prof. Ruth Ladenstein, MD, talks about needs and demands of paediatric oncologists and researchers


Assoc. Prof. Heinrich Kovar, PhD, talks about cancers in children


Assoc. Prof. Heinrich Kovar, PhD, talks about the future securing of childhood cancer research


Assoc.Prof. Michael Dworzak, MD, refers to the current situation of children with cancer


Assoc.Prof. Michael Dworzak, MD, talks about the EC-project „DIRECT“


Eva Frey, MD, refers to the aftercare of childhood cancer survivors