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Action against Cancer: European Partnership (2009-2013)
Faced with the large number of citizens affected by cancer in Europe, the European Commission has decided to implement a European Partnership for Action against Cancer for the period 2009-2013.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 24 June 2009 on Action against Cancer: European Partnership [COM(2009) 291 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This Communication sets out the objectives of the European Partnership for Action against Cancer.
Cancer in Europe: a major challenge
Cancer is one of the major causes of mortality in the European Union (EU). Although the legal basis for action in the field of health largely falls on the Member States, to combat this disease effectively it is necessary to act at European level in order to avoid duplication of efforts throughout the European Union, to reduce inequalities between countries and to improve the use of limited resources.
It is essential to put in place preventive measures to extend individuals’ life-spans. It has been estimated, for example, that if all women were to undergo cervical cancer screening, life years lost could be reduced by 94 %.
Action against cancer should be carried out collectively in order to facilitate the identification and sharing of information, capacity and expertise in prevention and treatment. This action carried out collectively in partnership should enable all Member States to have integrated cancer plans.
Areas covered by the Partnership
Prevention and early detection
One third of cancers could be avoided by acting on certain risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption, and by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. European strategies already exist in relation to obesity, alcoholism and smoking. A horizontal approach combining all of these aspects is encouraged under the European Partnership for Action against Cancer.
The individual’s environment, in particular indoor and outdoor air quality, and over-exposure to the sun, may be at the root of certain cancers.
The European Code Against Cancer is a specific anti-cancer tool: it contains a list of recommendations enabling citizens to take preventive measures linked to lifestyle.
Cancer can be treated successfully thanks to early screening and treatment strategies. In 2003 the Health Ministers of the Member States of the European Union (EU) unanimously adopted the Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening, leading to the implementation of screening campaigns for cervical cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer throughout the European Union. According to the first Report from the Commission on the implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (EN ), however, it is necessary to go even further in screening for these cancers by aiming for 100 % coverage of the population concerned.
Identification and dissemination of good practice
Patients should be offered integrated cancer care giving consideration to psychosocial wellbeing and support. In addition to curative care, high-quality care must be provided to a rising number of chronic cancer patients in order to stabilise their illness for a number of years and to provide them with a good quality of life in the absence of a cure. The Partnership will permit the exchange of good practices between Member States in all fields of health care, including palliative care, in order to reduce inequalities between countries.
Cooperation and coordination in cancer research
Cancer research covers research into prevention, clinical research and translational research. Euro 750 million has been devoted to cancer research through the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.
It is important to coordinate all sectors of research in order to avoid fragmentation of efforts throughout the EU. Forms of cooperation already exist such as the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
Benchmarking process – providing the comparable information necessary for policy and action
The European Commission considers it necessary to have a cancer information system for the collection of data and identification of good practices.
The collection of data would make it possible to establish a common set of core indicators.
Working together in partnership
The Partnership brings together Member States, experts, health care professionals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), patient groups, civil society representatives and industry.
The work should be undertaken in working groups each specialising in one of the four areas referred to above, coordinated by a steering group
The Partnership started in the third quarter of 2009. It will be funded by joint action, a financial instrument existing until the end of the current financial framework, i.e. 2013.
In 2006 cancer accounted for two out of ten deaths in women and three out of ten deaths in men. 3.2 million cancers are diagnosed every year in Europe. Faced with the extent of this phenomenon, the European Union must respond collectively in order to reduce the number of deaths and to improve public health. The Partnership set up for the period 2009-2013 is a response to combat the spread of this scourge in Europe.