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Engagement of regional authorities key to address inequalities in cancer prevention and cure across Europe  

​CoR stresses the importance and benefits of prevention and harm reduction

We must step up the fight against cancer, was the main message shared by Brigitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) at the Interparliamentary Committee Meeting (ICM) on Europe's Beating Cancer Plan on 27th September. The CoR calls for a debate on how to improve people's health awareness so that patients can reduce their exposure to risk factors to get ahead of the disease while making use of research and available digital tools.

In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer and 1.3 million people lost their lives. By 2035 the death toll of cancer is expected to increase by more than 24%, making it the leading cause of death in the EU. Prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment as well as the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors are key pillar of a stronger European Health Union and more resilient EU. While the rapporteur Sacrédeus supports the plan rolled out by the European Commission, she calls for a stronger emphasis on prevention to reduce the exposure to risk factors and the use of scientific advances and digitalisation in the fight against cancer. This would save lives and important resources.

Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), Member of Dalarna County Council and CoR rapporteur on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan stated: "While we welcome the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, addressing national, regional and social inequalities in cancer prevention and cancer care requires dedicated attention. Regions are closest to the patients, we need cancer centres and knowledge centres closer to them, and we need to make use of the tools the digitalisation has to offer. Stronger multi-level and multi-sectoral cooperation and coordination, especially at regional level, is needed to boost cancer research, innovation and new technologies, to improve our outlook and reduce disparities in cancer prevention and care."

The rapporteur stressed the urgent need to address existing inequalities and called on the European Commission to launch the planned Cancer Inequalities Register. She underlines that cooperation between institutions, Member States, regional and local authorities, as well as social partners and civil society organisations, is necessary for a successful implementation. The rapporteur points out that local and regional authorities are more familiar with the institutions responsible for health care and cancer treatment and will be responsible for implementing the plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic cancer care was severely impacted, disrupting prevention, access to treatment and medicine, delaying diagnosis and vaccination. According to a study by the European Cancer Organisation, 1.5 million cancer patients received less treatment and 100 million cancer screenings were missed due to the pandemic. Around one million cancer patients could not get a diagnosis and one in two cancer patients in Europe did not undergo the necessary surgery or chemotherapy. One in five of them is still waiting for such treatment. This pandemic has shown the importance of prevention to keep our health system stable and ready to help when necessary. Health systems need to think ahead and this is what the CoR wants more focus on.

Background information:

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is a political commitment to turn the tide against cancer and another stepping stone towards a strong European Health Union and a more secure, better-prepared and more resilient EU. With new technologies, research and innovation as the starting point, the Cancer Plan sets out a new EU approach to cancer prevention, treatment and care. The Cancer Plan is structured around four key action areas (prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, improve quality of life) with 10 flagship initiatives and multiple supporting actions.

Furthermore, the new, ambitious EU4Health programme together with other EU instruments will provide significant financial support with €4 billion to Member States. This substantial contribution will support the efforts of Member States to make their health systems more robust and more capable to address cancer.

The last European action plan against cancer was developed about 30 years ago and the world has seen major progress in treatment and prevention in the years since.

·       Legislative train schedule: Europe's Beating Cancer plan

·       Europe's Beating Cancer Plan - Working document Committee of the Regions (2072/2021). Rapporteur:Birgitta Sacrédeus, The Opinion of the CoR on the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan will be adopted in the plenary session scheduled for 1-2 December 2021.

·       Europe's Beating Cancer plan - Opinion EESC (SOC/677-EESC-2021). Rapporteur: Małgorzata Anna Bogusz

·       Draft Report "Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer". Rapporteur: Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (PE),

Meeting documents

The meeting recorded (EP Multimedia Center) (27.09.2021)


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