Cancer and the EU’s fight against it
On World Cancer Day, we tell you more about the actions promoted by the European Union to fight this disease
Who doesn’t know someone who has suffered from cancer? Cancer is undoubtedly one of the most important health scourges of our time, claiming the lives of 1.3 million people in the European Union alone. Moreover, according to the European Cancer Information System, almost three million people are diagnosed with this disease every year.
World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4 February, and the EU is very much aware of this disease. To understand cancer, prevent and detect it early, develop diagnosis and treatment, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families, the EU has launched the ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer’ plan, with 4,000 million euros in funding (1,250 million euros under the major health programme EU4Health).
Cancer prevention, one of the keys
One of the key elements in the European strategy to fight cancer is prevention, as 40% of the cases can be avoided. This is why the ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer’ plan, launched in February 2021, has set ambitious targets:
· To ensure that less than 5% of the European population uses tobacco by 2050.
· To reduce harmful alcohol consumption by 10% by 2025 and to reduce the exposure of young people to the purchase of alcohol.
· Improve health literacy about cancer and other diseases to promote healthier lifestyles.
· Reduce environmental pollution by improving air quality and reducing exposure to radiation and carcinogens.
· Improve screening by ensuring that 90% of the EU population has access to screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer by 2025.
Our innovation platform Kaila is an inexhaustible source of data, and thanks to it we can see that the trend in the allocation of European funds to cancer-related projects is increasing. In fact, the average budget for the 21-23 period compared to the previous one (2014-2020) has doubled, and there are €1,355 million allocated to cancer-related calls.
The ranking of the countries most involved in cancer-related projects is led by Germany, with 2,125 projects, followed by the UK (1,946) and Spain (1,575). The top two positions on the podium are replicated in the list of funding received, with Germany in first position with 950 million euros, followed by the United Kingdom (821 million) and the Netherlands (647).
In addition, within the Horizon Europe programme, the most relevant cancer-related innovation actors are the Weizzman Institute of Science in Israel, the German Cancer Research Centre, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
Other European initiatives
The European deployment to combat cancer is significant. In addition to the above-mentioned ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer’ plan, the most important European innovation and research programme, Horizon Europe, has chosen the fight against cancer as one of its five missions.
In this way, the ‘EU’s Mission on Cancer’ has more than 420 million euros to support cancer research projects. Other major European initiatives include the Cancer Knowledge Centre, the European Network of Comprehensive National Cancer Centres, the Cancer Inequalities Registry and many others.