Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here with you today – to support the European Prostate Cancer Awareness Day.
I believe here in this room we all share a common goal: for Europeans to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
To do so, I believe Europe needs:
More Promotion of good health for example encouraging healthy eating and physical activity.
More Prevention: addressing risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol;
More Protection: against health threats or harmful substances.
And more participation: working all together to deliver concrete improvements on the ground.
Better understanding and knowledge of health risks and how to manage them are crucial to this approach.
Here in this room we all know that prostate cancer has become the 'number one' cancer among European men. More than two million European men are living with prostate cancer today.
Preventing and controlling prostate cancer, and cancer more generally, is of key concern to the European Commission.
Let me outline some of the areas where we are focusing our attention. Of course, the Commission's role is to add European value to the efforts of Member States, health care professionals, and patients' organizations.
Back in 2003, the Council Recommendation on cancer screening set the basic criteria for early detection of cancer; by screening based on scientific evidence, and an estimation of the balance between benefit and harm.
It is on these bases that the European Union promotes population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer; and has developed European guidelines to support Member States in this regard.
When it comes to prostate cancer, increased screening has reduced mortality; but it has also led to the diagnosis of asymptomatic cancers that will not emerge during the lifetime. As such, sometimes screening for prostate cancer led to unnecessary treatment with long-term side effects.
The discussion on an appropriate balance between benefit and harm will therefore need to continue. And I am here to listen to your views.
Allow me to continue presenting our action on cancer.
Within our European Joint Action on Cancer Control - CANCON - a European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control was published last February.
This guide puts forward key recommendations by top experts from 25 different countries on how to strengthen cancer control in Europe.
I count on all stakeholders present today to use and disseminate this important guide.
Another tool, the European Code Against Cancer, launched in collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, demonstrates how simple measures help to prevent cancer; and how early detection can save lives.
This may sound like common sense, but it is worth repeating:
First, choosing a healthy diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
And second, overweight and lack of exercise can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Your active involvement in the promotion and dissemination of the Code is essential. I count on you to disseminate this Code.
The recent White Paper on Prostate Cancer by the European Association of Urology is an important tool in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
I invite you to share this valuable resource with the EU Health Policy Platform to ensure that it reaches all stakeholders.
Cancer research is a longstanding priority of the European Union's Framework Programmes for Research.
The European Union has invested some 128 million euros in prostate cancer research since 2007.
Let me give you some examples:
Launched in 2000, the European Randomized study of Screening for Prostate Cancer is the largest study of its type, and involves 184,000 men in eight European countries.
The study aims to provide evidence-based advice to governments around the world. It also produced a prostate cancer risk calculator – a smartphone application being used in clinics - which helps to identify risk groups.
Another project - 'Improve Prostate Cancer Outcome with Vaccine', aims to test a new vaccine using cancer-specific immune cells to treat metastatic prostate cancer patients.
The personalised health and care approach strongly recommended in the European Association of Urology's White Paper, will continue to be a key driver of the forthcoming calls for proposals under Horizon 2020.
The 2018-2020 calls are expected to be published next October, with an indicative budget of 1.8 billion.
Additional opportunities are also offered within the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 - the public-private partnership between the European Commission and the pharmaceutical industry. The initiative aims to accelerate the development of, and patient access to, innovative medicines.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me conclude by thanking the European Association of Urology, Europa Uomo and the European Cancer Patients Coalition for organising this campaign, and Ms Marian Harkin and Mr Alojz Peterle, Members of the European Parliament, for hosting today's event.
You have my support for this campaign and its worthwhile aims.
I am grateful for your attention and I look forward to a successful and productive meeting.