World Cancer Day 2013 on 4 February intends to raise collective awareness and improve general knowledge around and about cancer and dismiss misconceptions about the disease which, according to latest figures available, affected 2.4 million Europeans in 2008.
On this occasion, the European Commission presents a snapshot of concrete EU action on cancer prevention and reduction across the EU.
The JRC strongly supports this action, in particular the development of a harmonised cancer information system for Europe and the improvement of breast cancer services and screening guidelines.
Reliable, comparable, high-quality data and indicators on cancer are a key driver for improving prevention programmes and control and care processes across the EU via the standardisation and harmonisation of best practices. Harmonised cancer data is also an invaluable resource for cancer epidemiology, allowing greater understanding of the differences and related causes in population-based studies across regional and national boundaries.
The JRC is currently developing a harmonised cancer information system for Europe in collaboration with the European Network of Cancer Registries (ENCR) and important stakeholders, such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the EUROCARE group and others. This will generate a dynamic European cancer atlas which will help guide and monitor European cancer policy interventions. It will also provide an invaluable resource for cancer epidemiological research, allowing greater understanding of the differences and related causes in population-based studies across regional and national boundaries.
In addition, the JRC is developing the first European voluntary accreditation scheme for breast cancer services, which will run in tandem with work on a process to update the 4th edition of the European guidelines on cancer screening.
Although the scheme is voluntary, clinical departments that adhere to it will be recognised as the 'gold standard' by women in Europe, in terms of screening and treatment of breast cancer. As it is the first accreditation scheme developed in the area of health services, this may have an influence on the cross-border mobility of breast cancer patients in Europe.
The scheme will encompass services involved in all breast cancer stages, from the first invitation to a woman for screening through to the diagnosis, surgery, treatment and post-treatment, including rehabilitation, palliative- and psychosocial-care. It will be evidence-based and will place the patient at the centre of the process, thereby increasing the level of breast cancer control and care in the EU.