In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer, and another 1.3 million people lost their lives to it, including over 2,000 young people. Unless we take decisive action now, cancer cases are set to increase by 24% by 2035, making it the leading cause of death in the EU.

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan will have €4 billion of funding, including €1.25 billion from the future EU4Health programme.

Saving lives through sustainable cancer prevention

About 40% of cancer cases are preventable: effective cancer prevention strategies can prevent illness, save lives, and reduce suffering.

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Together, the EU can work towards:

  • a tobacco-free generation: ensuring that less than 5% of the population uses tobacco by 2040
  • reduce harmful alcohol consumption in line with the targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (relative reduction of at least 10% in the harmful use of alcohol by 2025) and reduce young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing
  • reduce environmental pollution by aligning the EU’s air quality standards with the World Health Organization’s guidelines and reduce exposure to carcinogenic substances and radiation
  • improve knowledge and health literacy to promote healthier lifestyles

Improving early detection of cancer

Early detection through screening can help save lives. But inequalities to access persist between Member States.

The number of at-risk people being tested varies among Member states. It ranges from

  • 6% to 90% for breast cancer
  • 25% to 80% for cervical cancer

Equal access to cancer diagnosis and treatment

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Everyone should have the same right to high quality care, diagnosis and treatment, the same access to medicines, and the same hope of survival, regardless of where they live.

But survival rates following treatment for breast cancer vary by 20% between countries and the five‑year survival for colon cancer ranges from 49% to 68%.

The EU Cancer Plan provides for an EU platform to improve access to cancer medicines as well as support for the cancer workforce through an inter-specialty training programme.


Improving quality of life for cancer patients and survivors

There are estimated to be over 12 million cancer survivors in Europe, including around 300 000 childhood cancer survivors, thanks to advances in early detection, effective therapies and supportive care.

  • Thanks to advances in early detection, effective therapies and supportive care, there is estimated to be over 12 million cancer survivors in Europe including around 300 000 childhood cancer survivors

While this is a reason for optimism, there also needs to be appropriate follow-up care, access to social protection and equal access to financial services, including insurance.

Flagship initiatives

  • Cancer plan research icon

    Knowledge Centre on Cancer

  • Cancer plan digitalisation icon

    European Cancer Imaging Initiative

  • Cancer plan detection icon

    Eliminate cancers caused by Human papillomavirus

  • cancer detection

    EU Cancer Screening Scheme

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    EU network of National Comprehensive Cancer Centres

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    Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment for All

  • cancer research

    European Initiative to Understand Cancer

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    Better life for cancer patients initiative

  • cancer inequalities


    Cancer Inequalities Registry

  • helping children with cancer

    Helping Children with Cancer Initiative