The EU should focus on inequalities in the fight against cancer in order to know where measures should be taken and where investments should be made, Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakidou stressed in a briefing to a group of European media, including the CYPE, ahead of today's conference she is organizing in Brussels on the European Union's policies to fight cancer.
Especially for the register of inequalities for cancer, Commissioner Kyriakidou emphasized that the philosophy of it is not to “name and shame” about which country is achieving more in the fight against cancer, but “to better understand what inequalities exist within and between member states”.
“When you know, you can invest to fill the gaps” he emphasized. “The point of the report is to identify where the problems are” so that funding and support can be better focused, he explained.
Referring to the report's findings on cancer and inequalities in the member states, Ms. Kyriakidou noted that there is an increase in cancer cases, but a decrease in deaths. However, the number of deaths from cancer is still too high, accounting for 22% of all deaths annually.
“We know from the report that people from a low socio-economic background are at greater risk,” he noted, explaining the differences within and between member states.
He also explained that there was a backsliding on controls due to the pressure that health systems received during the pandemic. This trend is reversing, but there are still challenges in carrying out checks for example in remote areas of different countries.
Indicative evidence cited by Ms. Kyriakidou was the fact that in 11 of the member states, less than 50% of women aged 50 – 69 had a mammogram in the last two years .
One of the main issues highlighted by Mrs. Kyriakidou was the treatment of cancer caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), in view of the new measures proposed by the Commission today.
The goal of these proposals, as he said, is to reach 90% HPV vaccination coverage for girls by 2030 and a significant percentage for boys, while he emphasized that this vaccine has been available since the 2000s.< /p>
Ms Kyriakidou estimated that, despite the reluctance of parents to vaccinate girls with HPV, the majority of parents will respond positively to the information campaigns.
As he pointed out, HPV cancers are among those that can be eliminated, with Australia very close to that goal.
Explaining its overall philosophy of the Commission's approach, Ms. Kyriakidou underlined that “it is the first time that we have a holistic, horizontal plan that changes the lives of millions of citizens”, both patients and their families.
Furthermore, he said, the Commission's approach to combating cancer shows, like the response to the coronavirus pandemic, how health issues can be addressed at a pan-European level without the need for member states to lose responsibilities in the health sector. Something similar, he noted, was also done in the effort to reform the drug market.
Among other things in the last four years the Commission has promoted the first review of cancer screening recommendations in twenty years, covering breast, cervical and colon cancers, and adding to their list of recommendations prostate, lung and stomach cancers.
Ms Kyriakidou particularly referred to the importance of the new network for young cancer survivors, which brings together young people who have been through cancer as children and teenagers with people with similar experiences as well as experts.
People who have joined this network, she noted, have shared with her that they have found a “second family.”
“It's a very lonely experience to have cancer at a young age, both for your family and for yourself” noted the Commissioner, which is why the network is important as it gives these people the opportunity to talk about things they had no one to talk to in the past, especially the issues that arise after recovery, and to talk to experts.
One of them, he said, is the “right to be forgotten”, i.e. ensuring that cancer survivors are not discriminated against for loans and life insurance decades after their recovery. Seven member states have already approved relevant legislation, while next month the Commission will have a dialogue with insurance companies and banks to draw up a code of conduct on these matters.
Among other initiatives stand out professional training programs for various specialties of health professionals, the creation of a network of comprehensive cancer care centers across Europe expected in 2025, as well as the strengthening of research cooperation with the USA.
< p data-block-key="3c8p1">Other future initiatives in the field of cancer care include palliative care for children, the use of digital technologies and personalized support.