‘An early diagnosis or vaccination can save lives… There is a vaccination against the human papillomavirus. I want to see every one of us to have access to screenings and vaccinations! We can cover 100% of the population. And I would like to discuss with you how we can reach this goal’
Ursula von der Leyen, President, European Commission
Every year, World Cancer Day provides an opportunity to bring the cancer community together, for us to pull together towards raising awareness and taking action to create a future without cancer. To mark the occasion, the European Commission began its outreach as part of Europe’s Cancer Plan in an emotional event at the Parliament’s Hemicycle building.
Entitled ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan: Let’s strive for more’ the event aimed to demonstrate the EU’s strong commitment to fighting cancer and to harness the collective power for positive change by working with a range of stakeholders from politics, science, the private sector and NGOs as well as cancer patients and survivors. The conference will in turn inform the forthcoming ‘Europe Beats Cancer Plan’ set to be announced by the new EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides towards the end of 2020.
Shortly after taking the role, Kyriakides had called for ‘all hands on deck’ in order to combat cancer through a collaborative effort to bring about change in the face of an imposing challenge.
3.5 million people in Europe are diagnosed with cancer. Without action, by 2035, the cases of cancer in Europe will have doubled. At present, a new case of cancer is diagnosed every 9 seconds in the EU. The previous ‘Europe against Cancer Plan’ dates back to the late 1980s and the statements of intent contained within led to legislation passing on tobacco and occupational health, the positive effects of which have carried through to the present day.
An increase in efforts to combat cancer is one of the number one priorities for new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen and in her mission letter to Commissioner Kyriakides, she defined the 4 pillars of the Europe Beating Cancer Plan as Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Quality of Life of Patients & Survivors.
The next step of the consultation allows for organisations and individuals to submit their views and experiences as to what the European Cancer Plan should entail.
NOMAN have long advocated for the extension of HPV vaccination programmes to boys as well as girls, in order to prevent the needless suffering caused by HPV-related cancers. 40% of cancer cases in the EU are preventable. The extension of HPV vaccination programmes provides a safe and effective means of preventing 90,000 cancers in the European region (12 countries in the European region already vaccinated both sexes against HPV).
The consultation therefore provides an opportunity to put forward HPV Action’s case for action. Eliminating HPV-related diseases in Europe is an achievable goal.
Our targets include:
- By 2025, all European country cancer plans should include actions towards achieving population-based gender-neutral HPV vaccination, if not already in place.
- By 2030, gender-neutral vaccination programmes against the HPV infection should be in place in all European countries.
- The target vaccination rate by 2030 in all European countries should be at least 90% of adolescents for both genders.
We call on Europe to implement these steps in order to prevent cancers in the region.
Above: NOMAN's Director, David Winterflood with EU Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides
Selected quotes from speakers:
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
“Cancer is an area where EU citizens expect us to take decisive actions. A Europe that strives for more is a Europe that listens to its citizens, that cares for their wellbeing. This is what Europe's Beating Cancer Plan is about - making a difference for Europe's citizens, patients and health systems. The success of the Plan will depend on the full engagement of citizens, cancer patients, stakeholders and actors at European, national and local levels. I invite everyone to participate and make this plan as ambitious and efficient as possible. Together we can make a difference.”
Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life
”Cancer concerns us all, in one way or another. Promoting our European Way of Life is also about values, dignity and synergies; that is what any policy on cancer should build on. The Europe's Beating Cancer Plan is a new major effort to make this happen, by opening a new era in cancer prevention and care. Together, let's shape a patient-centred Beating Cancer Plan that brings hope and life opportunities to all patients, their families and their friends in Europe. We can win this battle!”
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
“Everyone has a friend, a colleague or a relative who's gone through this. Everyone has experienced the same sense of sadness and helplessness. But there is something we can do – individually and collectively. At Member State's level and through our European Union. Of course, we do not start from scratch. But there is much more we can do than we are currently doing. Today, on World Cancer Day, we begin a common path that will lead to Europe's Beating Cancer Action Plan. Together we can make a difference: with prevention and research, with a new data strategy and equality in treatment across Europe.”