Europe's “Beating cancer” plan was presented shortly before “World cancer day”.

UM – 02/2021

On the 3rd February, the EC published its action plan against cancer - "a good day in politics" according to Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president. This plan focuses on the people and does what the EU does best: lay down ambitious goals, set clear deadlines and provide the necessary financial resources. The latter specifically amounts to: four billion euros, of which two billion euros will come from the Horizon Europe programme, 1.25 billion euros from the EU4Health programme and 250 million euros from the Digital Europe programme. 

Cancer is on the rise throughout the EU

The activity areas range from research, prevention, early detection and treatment to improving the quality of life of patients as well as those who have survived the disease. In her address, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the EC, stressed the aim of providing access to high-quality care for everyone in Europe. 1.3 million people would have lost their battle with cancer by 2020. This is marked by an upward trend. The good news: the number of survivors is also growing - thanks to R&D. Twelve million people in the EU currently survive cancer every year. 

Special focus on paediatric cancer

Von der Leyen emphasised the importance of paediatric cancer in the action plan. A special network for young survivors will complement a "children's initiative", which aims to provide children with optimum access to prevention, treatment and care services. The personalised, electronic "passport for cancer survivors", which will also be available to adults, is also intended to help in supporting young people after successful treatment and in arranging after-care.

Harmful substances and exposure to radiation

With its “Beating cancer” plan, the EU is taking a holistic approach with measures targeting all policy areas. The working world will not be exclude: The “Beating cancer” plan addresses, among other things, the amendment to the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, which protects workers from exposure risks at work. Under Horizon Europe, a partnership for assessing the risks of chemical substances is to be launched in 2021. The risks from radiation (UV & radon) will also be addressed.

The package of measures is extensive

The action plan against cancer includes a total of ten flagship initiatives and describes other supporting measures, including:   

  • a new cancer knowledge centre is to be established at the EU Joint Research Centre before the end of the year. From next year, cancer-related images will also be collected in an "EU atlas" and made available anonymously for research.
  • the Commission wants to see an EU network of cancer centres established in all of the member states by 2025 and 90 percent of patients should have access to them within the next five years at the latest. A register will identify inequalities in care throughout the EU.
  • harmful alcohol consumption is to be reduced by ten percent by 2025 and less than five percent of the population should still be smoking (it stands at 25 percent today) by 2040. EU legislation covering tobacco products as well as alcohol taxation provisions will also be revised. The EU also plans to propose the mandatory application of health warnings on labels by the end of 2023.

the 2003 cancer screening programme is to be revised and new screening programmes for prostate, lung and stomach cancer will be developed. Furthermore, at least 90 percent of all girls and as many boys as possible should be vaccinated against the papilloma virus by 2030.

German Social Insurance released a detailed appraisal of the roadmap for Europe's fight against cancer in an opinion and drafted an accompanying *ed. last spring.