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Cancer in Europe - the battle goes on - 04/02/2010

Science and information are at the centre of the EU's crusade to bring down cancer rates.

Every year, 3.2m Europeans are diagnosed with cancer - the most common cause of death after heart disease. Most widespread are cancers of the lungs, breast and colon.

Most EU countries have a strategy for bringing down mortality rates - many will feature in information campaigns on world cancer day on 4 February.

For its part, the EU plans to cut cancer rates by 15% by 2020 and is attacking cancer on two fronts - by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and funding research into cancer treatments.

The European code against cancer has 11 practical, science-based tips to help people stay healthy and reduce their risk of developing any form of cancer. Ideas include brisk, physical exercise every day and drinking no more than one (women) or two (men) alcoholic drinks per day.

Scientists, doctors and patients' groups are working together within the European partnership against cancer. Funding from the EU helps them share information, equipment and expertise.

While scientists have made giant strides in treating cancer, the huge number of people still losing their battle with the disease highlights the need for further research. Between 2002 and 2006, the EU channelled €480m into cancer research, funding 108 individual projects. In 2007-13, the figure will be even higher.

One EU-funded team has developed a biosensor able to identify cells that can actively suppress tumour growth. It could help cancer sufferers fight the disease using their own immune system.

Other research projects are looking into the causes of cancer. One is investigating how exposure to air pollution affects long-term health.

More on cancer in the EU

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