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Our mission

PIONEER is a European Network of Excellence for Big Data in Prostate Cancer, consisting of 32 partners across 9 countries. Our goal is to ensure the optimal care for all European men living with prostate cancer by unlocking the potential of Big Data and Big Data analytics.

By applying advanced data analytics, and developing a data-driven platform of unparalleled scale, quality and diversity, PIONEER will empower meaningful improvement in clinical practice, prostate cancer disease-related outcomes, and health-economic outcomes across the European healthcare landscape.

PIONEER will assemble, standardise, harmonise and analyse high-quality big data from diverse populations of prostate cancer patients across different stages of the disease to provide evidence-based data for improving decision-making by key stakeholders.

The challenge facing PIONEER

Prostate cancer is the second commonest cancer in men, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, accounting for 9% of all cancer deaths among men in Europe. The socio-economic burden associated with PCa is predicted to dramatically increase in the coming years due to our ageing population. Studies have reported a prevalence of 59% by the age of 79 years.

There are a number of critical questions that remain unresolved regarding the screening, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer patients, these questions relate to:

  1. Disparities in the incidents of prostate cancer between different countries as well as unacceptable inequalities in prostate cancer survival rates across the EU. There is insufficient knowledge on risk factors for prostate cancer and on patient characteristics. This lack of knowledge means that prediction of which patients will have the best outcomes with specific treatments remains poor.
  2. A lack of meaningful engagement of all key stakeholders (including patients) in the processes which define the most important prostate cancer research questions that urgently need answering.
  3. Lack of effective implementation of knowledge gained in clinical practice (including knowledge informed by real-life data), with variability within and across European countries. This results in inequality in prostate cancer care, increased risk of short- and long-term harms to patients, as well as excess costs related to inappropriate management.

There is a need for an improved definition of prostate cancer across all stages of disease, improved stratification of patients at time of diagnosis, and improvement and standardisation of prostate cancer-related outcomes based on real-life data. Ultimately, such definitions and data need to be fed back and effectively implemented into prostate patients’ care pathways to optimise screening, diagnostics and therapeutic management of these patients; therefore, providing them with the best possible care.

PIONEER’s unique approach is to firstly identify critical evidence gaps in prostate cancer care through a detailed prioritisation exercise including all stakeholders (i.e. clinicians, patients, researchers, industry etc.). PIONEER will then standardise and integrate existing ‘big data’ from high quality and multidisciplinary data sources from prostate cancer patients across different stages of the disease into a single innovative data platform. Based on a unique set of methodologies and advanced analytical methods, PIONEER will attempt to transform the field of prostate cancer care with particular focus on improving prostate cancer-related outcomes, health system efficiency and the quality of health and social care delivered to all prostate cancer patients and their families. In addition, PIONEER will aim to provide standardised care pathways for all clinical centres across Europe.