About the topic

In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer, and another 1.3 million lost their lives to it. Today, Europe accounts for a tenth of the world’s population, but a quarter of the global cancer cases. Lives lost to cancer in the EU are set to increase by more than 24% by 2035, making it the leading cause of death in the EU.

Cancer prevention and screening (early detection) offer the best chance of a contribution to beat cancer and save lives. As of 2020, 25 EU countries had introduced population-based screening in their National Cancer Control Plans programmes for breast cancer, 22 countries have done the same for cervical cancer and 20 for colorectal cancer.

In 2022, the Commission will make a proposal to update the 2003 Council Recommendation on cancer screening to ensure the latest available scientific evidence is reflected. One of the aims will be to consider the extension of cancer screening beyond breast, colorectal and cervical cancer to include prostate, lung and gastric cancer, as well as other cancers if supported by scientific evidence. The proposal will be informed by advice from the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to be adopted no later than February 2022.

Scoping paper – Cancer screening (April 2021)