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02 April 2020
Other Diseases
PREVENT, - Tobacco & Smoking, CARE, - Healthcare, - Quality of Life, - Air Quality

On the occasion of World Cancer Day on February 4th, the European Commission launched its most landmark initiative for this term in the area of health policy: Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

With 3.5 million people in the EU being diagnosed with cancer every year, and 1.3 million annually related deaths, cancer is undoubtedly one of the most serious and lethal diseases of our time.

More than 40 % of cancer cases preventable

Over 40% of the cancer cases are preventable, in the sense that there is robust scientific evidence to link them with risk factors that are well-known and avoidable.

On this basis, the plan will aim at steering upfront action, by building synergies with preventative policies concerning the environmental, commercial and social determinants of cancer. Furthermore, other priority areas include the promotion of early diagnosis, inequalities in accessing care, and quality of life of patients.  

Common risk factors for cancer and allergy, asthma and COPD

Foreseen to be adopted by the Commission by November 2020, the cancer plan is accompanied by two supporting public consultations: (1) on a Roadmap outlining the main contextual aspects and priorities of the future plan; and (2) on an online questionnaire, addressing specific questions on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and social integration.

In its response to the roadmap consultation, EFA highlighted the risk factors cancer has in common with allergy, asthma and COPD. We called for strong, concerted action in a series of policies including on air pollution, tobacco control, chemicals and workplace exposure.

EFA urges for a full alignment of EU air quality standards with the WHO recommendations. We are happy to see that also the Council conclusions follow this approach. Yet we are encouraging even stricter measures to control tobacco use and enable smoke-free environments.

Patient empowerment, patient participation and multi-disciplinary approach

In our response, EFA discusses the need for further patient participation in the context of such policy initiatives, as well as a focus on patient empowerment and disease management. In this regard, EFA expects the Beating Cancer Plan to pave the way towards a holistic strategic framework for non-communicable diseases based on patient participation and a multi-disciplinary approach.

Beating Cancer Plan: A framework model for collective and ambitious action?

At EFA we were glad to see the considerable commitment of the European Commission to deal with the longstanding challenges of this life-threatening disease. We believe the Beating Cancer Plan can serve as a model for collective and ambitious action, also for other disease areas, such as respiratory diseases, whose impact on patients, their families and the health systems calls for analogous urgency.

EFA response to European Commission Public Consultation on the Roadmap of Europe’s Beat Cancer Plan can be found here.