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World Cancer Day: EU Research to Fight 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 – 55% in men, and 45% in women. The most commonly diagnosed cancers were prostate, colorectal, breast and lung cancer. Yet it is estimated that more than one third of cancers are preventable.

Where does the EU come into the picture? To mark World Cancer Day 2013 (4 February), here is a quick look at what the EU is doing in the field of cancer research.


The EU invests over €180 million per year in cancer research.

The EU is an important cancer research funder. 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 'collaborative research projects', to find new ways to fight cancer and help patients. These projects help us better understand how various types of cancer develop, how they can be diagnosed earlier and treated more successfully.

Here are two examples of successful, EU-funded cancer research projects:

Improving healthcare for young cancer survivors

"If I have received radiotherapy to my abdomen (to treat cancer) and I have a heart problem or a new cancer 30 years later, to what extent is this linked to the radiotherapy I received?" asks Dr Lars Hjorth of Lund University in Sweden.

Developing new weapons in the fight against cancer

Cancer causes some 13% of deaths worldwide. Of these deaths, some 90% are caused not by the original cancer, but by its spread to other parts of the body. These secondary cancers, known as metastases, are most often caused by 'circulating tumour cells' (CTCs) which escape from the primary tumour and travel around the body in the bloodstream. In the process, CTCs often undergo modifications that make them more resistant to treatment than the primary tumours.

 

For more information:

10 Facts on EU Action to Fight Cancer

European Commission's Cancer research web site

European Commission's Public Health Cancer web site