European Parliament calls for greater commitment to combating cancer.

MM/SW – 03/2019

In its resolution of 13 February 2019, the European Parliament called for the fight against cancer to be given priority in health policy and presented a comprehensive list of proposals.


According to EUROSTAT, the statistical office of the European Union, 1.3 million people in the EU died from cancer in 2015. This represents one quarter (25.4%) of all deaths in Europe. The figure for women is 22.1% and for men 28.7%. Up to 50% of deaths could be prevented through better preventive measures and treatment. In terms of the quality of treatment, there are clear differences both within and between Member States. There is still a large gap between Central and Eastern Europe and the European average with regards to incidence and mortality rates.

Women’s cancers

Women are primarily affected by breast, uterine and cervical cancers, with the risk of breast cancer being 30% higher for women who work night shifts. However, the survival rate for breast cancer patients can reach 80% if the cancer is detected and treated early enough.


Women often suffer from psychological problems, especially when a mastectomy or hysterectomy has been performed.


Further problems arise from the use of breast implants, which are often used without proper consideration given to the risks before they are recommended to patients. There are still no manufacturers which are able to guarantee a breast prothesis that is 100% resistant to tearing even though leaking silicone leads to serious health problems, including cancer.

European Parliament resolution

The European Parliament has called on the Commission and the Member States to give priority in health policy to the fight against cancer by developing and establishing a comprehensive EU strategy and evidence-based, cost-effective strategies to combat cancer and related comorbidities.


The European Parliament acknowledges that Member States are responsible for the organisation of healthcare systems and the provisions for cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, it also believes that cooperation and exchange of best practices within Europe can generate significant added value. The resolution recommends the pooling of resources, knowledge and existing technologies. Therefore, the European Parliament is calling on the Commission to serve as a platform for the exchange of best practices between Member States with regard to cancer care models and standards for cancer programmes. In addition, the Commission should better coordinate women’s cancer research across the EU, as it is still very fragmented.


Most importantly, comprehensive and accurate data regarding cancer incidence and survival rates by gender should be collected in order to tailor specific measures to the needs of cancer patients. In order to ensure quality healthcare, research activities should focus on preventive measures, information, screening, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment procedures.