European Health Union: a new EU approach to cancer detection

European Health Union: a new EU approach to cancer detection

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Today, as part of the European Cancer Screening Program to be launched as part of Europe’s plan to beat cancer, the Commission is presenting a new approach to help Member States increase the uptake of cancer screening. By emphasizing the detection of cancers at an early stage, the goal of the proposed recommendation is to increase the number of screening tests, covering more target groups and more cancers.

This new EU approach, based on the latest developments and available scientific evidence, will help Member States ensure that by 2025, 90% of the Union population is eligible to participate in breast cancer screening. cervical cancer and colorectal cancer. . The new recommendation also extends organized mass screening to lung, prostate and, under certain circumstances, stomach cancers.

daisies SchinasVice President in charge of promoting our European way of life, said: “Cancer is a health priority for us. In the past two years, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on cancer prevention, detection, and diagnosis. Finding cancer as early as possible can make a real difference in increasing treatment options and saving lives. To do this, we must strengthen cancer screening throughout the European Union. Today, we once again show our determination to fight resolutely and collectively against cancer.”

wake KyriaksCommissioner of Health and Food Safety, said the following: “In 2020, approximately 2.7 million people living in the EU were diagnosed with cancer and more than 1.3 million people died from the disease. We know that early diagnosis saves lives and improves quality of life. Today, as part of the European plan to beat cancer, we set a new course for cancer screening in the European Union. Thanks to the new recommendations, the European cancer screening program will cover types of cancer that together account for almost 55% of all new cases diagnosed in the Union each year. Our new recommendations, which are based on scientific data and the excellence developed in cancer research over the last 20 years, will strengthen our action across the Union and allow us to act quickly to catch up the delay that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. caused in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Together, we can all make a difference when it comes to cancer trends.”

The proposed recommendation introduces a new EU approach to good practice aimed at improving cancer screening. It replaces a recommendation that has been in place for almost 20 years and urgently needs to be updated. The proposal is a flagship initiative of the European plan to fight cancer that takes into account the latest developments and available scientific data. Financial support is available for the implementation of the new recommendations, including €38.5 million committed under the EU for Health program and €60 million under Horizon Europe. In addition, the Commission will offer additional funding for cancer screening under the EU4Health 2023 programme. European regional, social and cohesion funds can also provide additional support.

What are the new items?

The recommendation is intended increase usage screening for breast cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer in order to reach the target set in the European plan to defeat cancer, namely to offer this screening to 90% of people who meet the required conditions by 2025. In addition, targeted screening should be extended to other cancers, particularly breast cancers. prostateof lung and of thestomach.

To facilitate more specific and less invasive screening, the recommendation:

  • expands the target group for breast cancer screening include women ages 45 to 74 (compared to 50 to 69 today);
  • recommends that the detection of human papillomavirus (HPV) performed on women ages 30 to 65, every 5 years or more, depending on HPV vaccination status, to screen for cervical cancer;
  • recommends carrying out Screening for colorectal cancer using fecal immunochemical tests in people aged 50 to 74 years. to determine the need for a follow-up endoscopy/colonoscopy.

Based on the latest data and methods, the recommendation extends organized screening to three additional cancers and provides for:

  • detection of lung cancer between heavy smokers and former heavy smokers aged 50 to 75 years;
  • detection of prostate cancer in men aged up to 70 years, based on prostate-specific antigen testing, with additional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for follow-up;
  • detection ofHelicobacter pylori and monitoring for precancerous lesions of the stomach in areas where The incidence and mortality rates of stomach cancer are high..

The recommendation pays particular attention to theequal access to testing, the needs of certain socio-economic groups, people with disabilities and people living in rural or remote areas, so that cancer screening becomes a reality throughout the EU. It is also important to make sure diagnostic procedures, treatments, psychological support as much as’adequate follow-up after treatment Y in the right moment. The recommendation also introduces regular and systematic monitoring screening programmes, including disparities, using the European Cancer Information System and the Cancer Inequalities Registry.

To support implementation, EU guidelines on cancer detection and treatment It will be developed with the financial support of the EU4Health program for lung, prostate and stomach cancer. Existing EU guidelines on breast cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer will be updated regularly.

Next steps

Once adopted by the Council, the Recommendation will replace the current Cancer Screening Recommendation of 2003.


It is estimated that 2.7 million people in the EU will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. It is estimated that one in two EU citizens will develop cancer in their lifetime, with long-lasting consequences for their quality of life, and that only half of cancer patients will survive.

The 2003 Council Recommendation contains recommendations for cancer screening, encouraging Member States to implement quality-assured population-based screening programmes. It has improved cancer screening and ensured that those most affected have easy access to organized screening.

The 2017 report on the implementation of this recommendation and the European guideline on quality improvement in comprehensive cancer care identified challenges and future needs. It became clear that the recommendation needed to be revised to take into account the latest scientific evidence.

Au cours des 20 dernières années, de nouveaux de pistage tests et protocoles ont été validés et introduits dans les États membres, et de nouvelles données étayent l’extension des recommendations en matière de pistage à d’other cancers that ceux visés par le texte actuellement in force.

In February 2021, the Commission presented the European plan to defeat cancer, one of the main priorities of the Commission Von der Leyen in the field of health and an essential pillar of a strong European health union. Improving early detection is one of the four key areas of the plan, which announced a review of the 2003 Council recommendation on cancer screening as part of the main action to propose a new EU-funded screening programme.

For more information

Proposal for a Council Recommendation on strengthening prevention through early detection: a new EU approach to cancer screening

Annex to the proposal

Stakeholder consultation on the proposal

Questions and answers about cancer screening

Factsheet: European plan to fight cancer: a new approach to cancer screening

Factsheet: European plan to fight cancer: where are we now?

cancer screening video

ITC Fact Sheets

Report: Cancer screening in the European Union

EU policy in the fight against cancer

Cancer Knowledge Center


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