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What is Europe doing?


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Graphic elementThe facts

CancerBeing told that you have cancer is shocking and frightening, but many types of cancer don't carry the automatic death sentence they did 20 years ago. We now know what causes many cancers, and we are much better at recognising and treating them.
In the whole of Europe, although about 160 000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, more than 70% of them are still alive and well five years later. But survival rates for other cancers - of the pancreas, lung and stomach, for example - are low. Cancer continues to claim lives and cause great suffering. It is still a major challenge for medicine in the 21st century.

Graphic elementAction

CancerEurope has central facilities that are helping cancer researchers to get the most from their time and funding. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Data Center, supported by the Commission since its establishment in 1978, is a focus for teams testing new cancer treatments. The centre gives advice on trial design and data management and helps groups to present and publish their results. Another, the European Cancer Resources Bank, grows living cancer cells from a huge number of different types of cancer and supplies them through a catalogue to cancer teams all over Europe.
Communication networks between researchers, hospitals and GPs are spreading knowledge quickly and effectively and also making new types of study possible. A Europe-wide project to study clustering in cases of childhood leukaemia is collecting statistics from a wide geographical area to discover if such clusters are due to chance, to a viral infection, or to exposure to something in the environment. Another project dependent on European cooperation is investigating ways to prevent colon cancer, one of Europe's biggest cancer killers.

Breast cancer - Prevention and heredity
Screening women for breast cancer helps to catch the disease at an early stage. This is important for every woman but particularly so for women who have a strong family history of breast cancer. Since 1992, a large EC funded research project has been studying the risk of breast cancer in women who carry the BRCA1 gene.


European Cancer Resources Bank -
A data base of cells

The European Cancer Resources Bank has increased its lines of rare cancer cells and it is now possible to obtain cells from cancers that have occurred in different members of the same family - an invaluable tool for teams studying hereditary cancers.

Fighting leukaemia
Childhood leukaemia can now be treated very effectively using modern drugs. European researchers are trying to indentify possible environmental factors that might cause clusters of leukaemia cases.


A neutron treatment for cancer
Four groups of ten patients, all with particularly malignant brain tumours, have been treated using a new form of radiotherapy. This first clinical trial of boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) is the result of 10 years' co-operation between the best European specialists. This advance in radiotherapy was made possible with the technical and scientific support of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) at Petten in the Netherlands.

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