Cancer kills about 9 million people a year in the world. In the European Union alone, 1.3 million people die of cancer every year and 3.5 million new cases are diagnosed. Nearly everybody has a friend or a family member who is suffering from cancer. This disease does not only affect patients, but also patients' families, friends, colleagues, and it has a life-lasting effect.
A European solution for a European problem
While a majority of responsibilities for health remains within the Member States, the EU can and must play its part. Cancer is not just a national problem therefore the solution cannot be national either. That is why, under the EPP Group's leadership, the European Parliament set up a special Committee to see what Europe can do to help Europeans fight and beat cancer.
If we are to shift the trend, we have to work together. Through the new Committee we want to gather support for our 10-step European master plan to fight cancer.
There are four main areas the Cancer Committee's work is based on: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and care. Those areas represent the strategic approach the EU has taken in order to beat cancer. Knowing that 40% of all cancer cases are preventable means we can work towards the goal of preventing them and securing a better and healthier life for many Europeans.
How can we beat cancer?
For the EPP Group, Europe can have a massive impact on the fight against cancer, and here is how:
1 - Raising awareness by promoting healthy lifestyles. The European Parliament must concretely fight for the strict and fast implementation of the Tobacco Directive, take action to reduce obesity, alcohol use, and chemical exposure, increase vaccinations, and reduce exposure to carcinogens in the workplace;
2 - Develop a common early detection strategy, through which we can increase the chances of survival for thousands of patients;
3 - Support research to strengthen prevention, diagnosis, treatment and innovation, especially with a view to the new mission on cancer within Horizon Europe. The EPP Group wants to increase the amount for cancer research from €80 to €120 billion over the next seven years;
4 -Develop the necessary eHealth infrastructure to address the issue of more specialised therapies and to avoid unnecessary travelling for patients;
5 - Implement a Cross-Border Healthcare Directive to allow patients to see specialists which are best suited for their treatment, without unnecessary burdens;
6 - Reduce inequalities. In Eastern Europe, cancer patients today have a 30 percent fewer chance of recovery than in Western European countries;
7 - Establish a better framework for treating children with cancer, and ensure less bureaucracy in clinical trials, especially for SMEs and non-profit organisations. We must improve the treatment in areas where the pharmaceutical industry is not investigating because there is limited profitability;
8 - Work on Europe’s problem of the shortages of medicines and make cancer drugs affordable and available;
9 - Patients and their carer relatives often feel alone. They often lack support and sufficient information. In a cancer patient initiative, we must ensure that cancer patients get the help they need during their illness, but also after their recovery.
Start of a new era
Europe can and should do more in the fight against cancer. Where national health systems reach their limits, European cooperation can help them. The EPP Group has championed setting up a Cancer Committee to see where Europe can offer added value. It will be a starting point for strong cross-border cooperation and a common, European fight against cancer. It is the start of a new era, where having cancer is no longer a taboo, and fighting it is no longer a battle of an individual and their family.