Brussels, 22 January 2009
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the European Union. Breast, cervical and colorectal cancer accounts for 32% of cancer deaths in women and 11% in men. With an ageing population, the figures are due to increase, unless preventive measures are taken to reduce cancer deaths. The European Union shares a common commitment to ensuring proper screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, as set out in Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening (2003/878/EC). In the first implementation report, the Commission highlights that although much progress has been made in the field of cancer screening, Member States have not fully put this screening in place. Less than half of the minimum recommended numbers of screenings take place in the EU each year. By providing a clear description of the situation and the gaps, this report helps to renew the commitment to put in place breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening as a crucial and cost-effective measure to reduce the burden of cancer in the European Union.
The European Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou, said: "In these times of financial uncertainty, we need to recognise, more than ever, the importance of planning for a healthy future. Investing in cancer screening programmes will pay long term dividends, as prevention is the most efficient and cost-effective way to minimise the european burden of cancer. "
The findings of the report
Although much progress has been made within the area of cancer screening, more is still required:
The current annual volume of screening examinations in the EU is considerable; however, this volume is less than one-half of the minimum annual number of examinations that would be expected if the screening tests specified in the Council Recommendation on cancer screening were available to all EU citizens of appropriate age (approximately 125 million examinations per year).
Less than half of these examinations (41%) are performed in population-based programmes which provide the organisational framework for implementing comprehensive quality assurance as required by the Council Recommendation.
How do we increase the volume of screening in the EU?
What additional initiatives will the Commission undertake in order to combat cancer?
The Commission intends to form a European partnership for action against cancer in 2009 by bringing together relevant stakeholders across the EU in a collective effort to addressing cancer. The partnership will support Member States in their efforts to tackle cancer more effectively. Key areas for future cancer activities include:
The Report on the Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening:
The Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening: