World Cancer Day: Turning cancer from lethal to chronic

February 4th is a global milestone, a reminder that cancer is an immense health challenge that puts to the test patients, and health systems alike [1]. Two years into the pandemic, Europe is slowly finding its way back to normality.  Regrettably, this is not the case with the cancer screening and treatment backlog which will take much longer to clear[2].

Against this backdrop, the European Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan could not have come at a better time.  Supported by topical actions - such as the European Inequalities Registry and the public call for evidence on cancer screening[3] - as well as a robust budget of  €4 billion, this Plan engages European and national stakeholders in an integrated effort to turn cancer disease from lethal to chronic[4].  Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan substantiates the political will to foster health equity across the continuum of care, that is from screening and treatment to after-care.  

COCIR welcomes the EU efforts to mitigate discrepancies among and within the Member States. We have whole-heartedly supported Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan since the day of its announcement, two years ago. We believe that all EU citizens should enjoy high-quality cancer care and cure equally.

We champion the principle of equal access to quality cancer care for all and defend the right for all qualified EU citizens to be offered cancer screening regularly. We consider that the 2003 Council recommendation on cancer screening should not only be updated with the latest scientific evidence but also be extended to lung and prostate cancer screenings.

Evidence shows that precise and accurate early detection[5] is a critical enabler of high survivorship. Detected early, a stage 1 cancer type requires only a short, minimally invasive, and rather inexpensive treatment, such as radiotherapy. It also results in a positive patient experience and a high level of survivorship. Regrettably, treating a late-stage cancer usually means the opposite.   

To this end, COCIR, together with our members never tires of showcasing the advantages of prevention and early detection for patients, and society. Our members are striving to provide new innovative solutions to meet evolving patient and clinical needs. So that all European citizens profit from personalised care and sustainable outcomes. So that the whole of society benefits from improved patient experience, increased health professional satisfaction, better clinical pathways, and overall cost efficiency.

February 4th is here to remind us of all that, and we seize the opportunity to spread the message.