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European Commission – 25 years fighting cancer

In 2008 (latest figures available), an estimated 2.4 million new cases of cancer, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, were diagnosed in EU countries.

Since 1985 when the EU launched the first "Europe against Cancer" programme it has been committed to the fight against cancer and now invests over €180 million per year in cancer research.

Funding new ways to fight cancer and help patients

During the past six years, the EU has invested more than €1.1 billion in international collaborative research, frontier research, mobility programmes, public-private partnerships and coordination of national cancer research efforts. More than half this budget – €680 million – has been used to encourage key players from across Europe and beyond to join forces in projects to help us better understand how various types of cancer develop, how they can be diagnosed earlier and treated more successfully.

CRCS – Development of European Guidelines for Quality Assurance of Colorectal Cancer Screening

For example, the CRCS project, funded under the Public Health Programme, shows how cancer screening can help lower the burden of cancer in the population by discovering disease in its early latent stages. Screening practices for colorectal cancer are not glamorous but it is essential that the public is aware of the potential of being screened, even if they are healthy.

The CRCS project was launched following a recommendation from EU Health Ministers to all member states to introduce a full cancer screening programme and has developed guidelines for implementing this based on successful developments of previous editions of other EU screening guidelines.

 Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common newly-diagnosed cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the 27 EU countries with approximately 330 000 new cases and 149 000 deaths estimated for men and women combined in 2008. Yet, it is estimated that more than one third of cancers are preventable.

Population screening across the EU – the facts and figures

  • It takes over 10 years to set up a full screening programme.
  • At the start of CRCS in 2006, no country in Europe had a fully implemented screening programme in place the way the EU had recommended, i.e. population-based.
  • By 2011, based on the guidelines produced by the CRCS project, 17 countries were running nationwide population-based screening programmes.

The comprehensive guidelines developed in the project cover the entire screening process from invitation to be screened to management of screen-detected lesions, and include recommendations for standardised procedures, monitoring and evaluation.

Quality screening gives patients the chance to receive timely and often life-saving treatment, through early diagnosis

If detected at an earlier stage, cancer is more responsive to less aggressive treatments. Screening can lower the burden of cancer in the population by discovering disease in its early latent stages.

It is envisaged that the availability of the new European guidelines for quality assurance in colorectal cancer screening and diagnosis will create a standard across Europe. Population-based screening programmes for colorectal, breast and, cervical cancer are now being rolled out across Europe following the EU recommendation.

More information:

World Cancer Day

European Commission – Public Health – Cancer

Public Health European Commission – Health-EU – Cancer

European Partnership for Action Against Cancer