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EU Cancer Policy

Health promotion is a key priority for the European Commission as prevention is the most efficient and cost effective way of tackling illness and poor health. The Commission states that around one third of all cancer could be prevented by modifying or avoiding key risk factors such as smoking, being overweight, low fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity and alcohol consumption! The institutions of the European Union have been particularly determined to coordinate the EU Member States' efforts to improve cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and care and research.

Since 2007 when the Portugese Presidency first recognised that cancer must be considered as a European public health priority and that it should be integrated into a wider European Public Health strategy great progress has been made in prioritising cancer in the EU.

In 2008 the Slovenian Presidency made huge strides in prioritising cancer within its policy agenda. The Presidency called on Member States to develop cancer strategies or plans to prevent and combat cancer. In April 2008 the European Parliament Health Committee adopted a Resolution on "Combating cancer in the enlarged European Union". MEPs gave their full support to the Slovenian Presidency.  The Slovenian Presidency also urged the Commission to put forward an Action Plan that outlined a multidisciplinary to cancer control.

Previously in 2003 EU Health Ministers unanimously adopted a Council Recommendation on cancer screening and invited all Member States to implement population based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. In December 2008 the European Commission adopted its Report on the Implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening. The report shows that although much progress has been made in cancer screening, the EU as a whole is only about half way to meeting the minimum annual number of examinations.

Despite the Recommendations of 2003 stating that “Men and Women from 50 years of age should participate in colorectal cancer screening” in 2009 population based screening remains very poor with only Scotland, Finland, UK, Northern Ireland, Wales and Italy having an ongoing rollout.

In June 2009 the European Commission published a Communication on “Action Against Cancer: European Partnership” amongst others the Communication aims to achieve 100% population based screening for colorectal cancer by 2013.  It also aims that by 2013 every Member State should have in place a National Cancer Plan or Strategy. Most importantly however the Commission has invited all Stakeholders to join its “European Partnership Against Cancer”. This involves Member States, Health Ministries, Health Experts, Patient Organisations, Scientists, Private Industry and Civil Society.

The Partnership was officially launched on the 29 September 2009 in Brussels by President Barroso and was hosted by the then Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou. Over 300 people attended this significant meeting. The aim of the Partnership is to support Member States in their efforts to more efficiently tackle cancer by providing a framework for indentifying and sharing information, capacity and expertise in cancer prevention and control. europacolon is delighted to announce that we will be working with the Partnership as collaborators on Work package 6: Screening and Early Diagnosis.

View more on the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer

europacolon is committed to supporting initiatives that will impact on improving health outcomes for all European citizens. In addition we believe in promoting equal access to information.

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