Leave no stone unturned – Europe beats cancer, together – POLITICO

European Commissioner for Health, the commitment of Stella Kyriakides to neglect nothing[1] marked the start of a new era for cancer patients in the European Union in 2021. Europe, representing 10% of the population and yet 25% of cancer cases in the world[2], welcomed the European plan to fight against cancer. Launched with the promise to eradicate the inequalities faced by cancer patients across and within EU member countries, it is a strong political commitment to tackle every step of the cancer journey. cancer care that finally confirms that yes, we can end this suffering by working together.

Europe, which represents 10% of the population and yet 25% of cancer cases in the world, welcomed the European plan to fight against cancer.

Accompanied by EU Cancer Mission[3]key to realizing the ambitions of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Commission’s plan started with decisive steps: a clear Implementation roadmap[4]structured governance, funding and tangible and measurable progress markers, including the creation of the Cancer Knowledge Center and the forthcoming European Commission proposal for an updated EU Council Recommendation on cancer screening.

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) Oncology Platform welcomes the fact that the European institutions are finally prioritizing cancer care, which will have a positive impact on patients, carers, families and health systems.

Cancer is a political priority because of the negative domino effect it has on society as a whole. We cannot – and do not want – to sit and wait. Political priorities will only transform us into a true Cancer Controlled Union that says no to unnecessary suffering whether the fight against cancer policy remains high on the political agenda. We need the European Commission to help member countries to implement the necessary measures. With the support of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU working alongside them, together we can tackle the challenges of cancer and eliminate the backlog catalyzed by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine..

Cancer is a political priority because of the negative domino effect it has on society as a whole. We cannot – and do not want – to sit and wait.

The European plan to fight against cancer is the first step, but the road is long

The European Commission, supported by the cancer stakeholder community, has the power to encourage policies to prevent and detect new cases, and to help people diagnosed with cancer to thrive, but not just by wishing it. The European Beating Cancer Plan marks an unprecedented political commitment to non-communicable diseases, but for it to become sustainable and effective, cancer will need to remain high on the political agenda at EU level. Momentum cannot be lost due to unexpected crises and shocks, shifts in health priorities or shifts in political structures in the coming years – each year is critical to the successful implementation of measures and Cancer Plan milestones.

The plan will require strong commitment from member countries and in return, member countries will benefit from harmonized guidance

The objective of the European plan to fight against cancer is clear: “to help Member States to reverse the trend against cancer”[5]. To achieve this, it is essential to support member countries. This should not just take the form of funding to address the growing incidence and burden of disease. Continued, evidence-based leadership and monitoring of implementation is needed to ensure that all patients in the Union benefit, not just some. A clear analysis of progress against milestones will be essential, with accountability at EU and national level. For member countries to move forward, up-to-date national cancer plans aligned with EU ambitions are needed, especially for those who have not published updates for more than a decade. a decade (or ever).

Cancer simply doesn’t wait: Delays in treatment of four weeks have been associated with a 6-13% increased risk of death. The longer the delay, the more likely it is to be fatal.

Cancer won’t wait for more shocking events to be over

Already long, waiting lists have been further affected by recent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. While resources have had to shift, many cancer patients have been deprived of life-changing and even life-saving care, leading to backlogs and delays. Cancer just doesn’t wait: Delays in treatment of four weeks have been linked to a 6-13% increased risk of death[6]. The longer the delay, the more likely it is to be fatal.

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The EFPIA Oncology Platform was created to foster a policy environment that transforms the lives of cancer patients, and we will work hard to make this a reality for every one of them. Through our work, we equip institutions across the Union to help them make informed, evidence-based decisions that put patients and their environment at the heart of their concerns.

The EFPIA is of course not alone. Many other stakeholders across Europe are doing their best to support decision makers, partnering and collaborating to bring innovative solutions to the conversation. With the EU now juggling multiple healthcare needs, any slowdown in cancer control efforts would simply mean that all progress has been wasted. Oncology is an investment, not a cost, and this needs to be understood by EU institutions and member countries. In concluding Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Commission reiterated the importance of working together to “make a difference and beat cancer” — that’s why today we call on the EU to continue to s associate and leverage the work of the cancer community to support member countries and, above all, patients.

It’s time to act and stay focused.

Better outcomes for cancer patients, better outcomes for everyone.


[1] European Commission: European Action Plan Against Cancer (2021). Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/system/files/2022-02/eu_cancer-plan_en_0.pdf.

[2]Joint Research Center (2022). Cancer in Europe: 5 things the data tell us. Available at: https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/jrc-news/cancer-europe-5-things-data-tells-us-2022-01-13_en

[3] European Commission (2021). EU Mission: Cancer. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/funding/funding-opportunities/funding-programmes-and-open-calls/horizon-europe/eu-missions-horizon-europe/cancer_en

[4] European Commission (2022). European plan against cancer: roadmap for implementation. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/system/files/2022-01/2021-2025_cancer-roadmap1_en_0.pdf

[5] European Commission: European Action Plan Against Cancer (2021). Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/system/files/2022-02/eu_cancer-plan_en_0.pdf.

[6] Hana, et al. (2020) Mortality due to delayed cancer treatment: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. Available at: https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m408

Mary I. Bruner