European Week Against Cancer 2011: focusing on healthy living

This year's European Week Against Cancer, which has been re-launched under the leadership of the Association of European Cancer Leagues as one of the activities of the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer, will focus on healthy living.

The Commission has been working together with the Member States in sharing knowledge, capacity and expertise in cancer prevention and control, more can be done to effectively tackle and combat cancer across the Union. Every year nearly 2.5 million EU citizens are diagnosed with cancer, which is also the second most common cause of death in Europe (29% of deaths for men, 23% for women).

The policies implemented by the EU in order to fight against cancer include:

  • The 2006 EU Alcohol Strategy and 2007 Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity-related health issues aim to set out an integrated approach with Member States and different stakeholders, including NGOs and industry, to reducing ill health due to these factors. On tobacco, the EU approach includes legislation (on advertising and tobacco products), supporting the Member States in areas including prevention, cessation and smoke-free environments and financing an EU-wide awareness-raising campaign. Therefore, at European level, considerable resources have been allocated to promoting healthier lifestyles and better overall health of EU citizens, by addressing key risk factors such as excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use. In addition, the new EU campaign "Ex-Smokers are Unstoppable" will be launched in the coming weeks.
  • The latest initiative of the Commission in the field of cancer is the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC) launched in September 2009. The Partnership brings efforts of different stakeholders together into a joint response to prevent and control cancer and aims to support Member States in tackling cancer more efficiently. The first Open Forum of the EPAAC will be held on 14-15 June 2011 in Spain and will focus on cancer healthcare and research.
  • EU Health Ministers unanimously adopted in December 2003 a Council Recommendation on cancer screening which sets out principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer. Member States are invited to implement nationwide population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, with appropriate quality assurance.
  • In addition, EU financial support for cancer research since 2003 amounts to close to €1 billion, funding 183 projects. This support has created the necessary collaboration between cancer centres, researchers and patient advocacy groups in different countries to improve the way in which cancers are tackled, help make the best treatments available to everyone and reach more patients. Significant efforts are being made on breast cancer and rare cancers, melanoma, leukaemia and cancer imaging. Cancer in women and children receives special attention. For example, for the first time in Europe, a project will focus on the long-term side effects of treatment in childhood cancer survivors.