Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan: A new EU approach to prevention, treatment and care

In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with the disease, and another 1.3 million people lost their lives to it.

In an effort to tackle this problem, the European Commission has launched the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, as a key pillar of a strong European Health Union.

In addition to severely affecting the lives of patients and those around them, cancer has a huge impact on our health systems, our economy, and on the society at large.

The Cancer Plan sets out a new EU approach to cancer prevention, treatment and care. It is expected to tackle the entire disease pathway, from prevention to quality of life of cancer patients and survivors, focusing on actions where the EU can add the most value.

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan will be supported by actions spanning across policy areas from employment, education, social policy and equality, through marketing, agriculture, energy, the environment and climate, to transport, cohesion policy, and taxation.

Four key action areas
The Cancer Plan is structured around four key action areas with 10 flagship initiatives and multiple supporting actions. It will be implemented using the whole range of Commission funding instruments, with a total of €4 billion being earmarked for actions addressing cancer, including from the EU4Health programme, Horizon Europe and the Digital Europe programme.

  • Prevention through actions addressing key risk factors such as tobacco (with the aim to ensure that less than 5% of the population uses tobacco by 2040), harmful alcohol consumption, environmental pollution and hazardous substances. Additionally, to prevent cancers caused by infections, the Cancer Plan’s objective is to vaccinate at least 90% of the EU target population of girls and to significantly increase the vaccination of boys by 2030.
  • Early detection of cancer by improving access, quality and diagnostics and support Member States ensuring that 90% of the EU population who qualify for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings are offered screening by 2025. To support achieving this, a new EU-supported Cancer Screening Scheme will be put forward.
  • Diagnosis and treatment through actions to ensure better integrated and comprehensive cancer care and addressing unequal access to quality care and medicines. By 2030, 90% of eligible patients should have access to National Comprehensive Cancer Centres linked through a new EU Network.
  • Improve quality of life of cancer patients and survivors, including rehabilitation, potential tumour recurrence, metastatic disease, and measures to support social integration and re-integration in the workplace. A ‘Better Life for Cancer Patients Initiative’ will be launched, focusing on follow-up care.

In addition, to support new technologies, research and innovation, a new Knowledge Centre on Cancer will be launched to help coordinate scientific and technical cancer-related initiatives at EU level. A European Cancer Imaging Initiative will be set up to support the development of new computer-aided tools to improve personalised medicine and innovative solutions.

More information about the Plan can be in the official press release, and the Factsheet.

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