EU Public Health
Cancer remains one of the biggest causes of death in Europe. Although enormous efforts are being made in the area of research and significant advances have been made in the fight against this scourge – medicine is currently able to cure one cancer in two cancer still remains a public health concern. Some cancers can be cured, or the prospects of cure greatly increase, if detected early.
The EU approach to this major scourge is comprehensive and includes action aimed at improving general well-being. EU Public Health policy focuses on primary and secondary prevention, and on information to address health determinants such as tobacco, alcohol, nutrition and physical activity. The basic message is that certain cancers may be avoided and general health improved if people adopt healthier lifestyles. This has led to a series of recommendations, notably on cancer screening, but also more generally to support for healthy lifestyles.
Europe is currently beset by unacceptable inequalities in cancer screening and follow-up. Several EU projects have been launched in an effort to develop a cancer surveillance system to gather comparable data on cancer occurrence and outcomes (incidence, mortality, prevalence and survival) across Europe. EU networks and registries set up to analyse and monitor such data, together with the burden of disease linked to cancer in the Member States, are fundamental steps towards providing added value at EU level and supporting efforts across the continent to combat cancer.