EU wide approach to delivering better cancer care for all

Specific focus on paediatric and rare cancers and social determinants in accessing cancer care

MEPs from the Beating Cancer Committee have held a discussion with ten leading experts on how to deliver the best possible care to cancer patients in the EU. This comes as the EU Commission is preparing to launch its EU Beating Cancer plan this week.

Topics discussed at the Beating Cancer Committee ranged from cancer drugs to multidisciplinary cancer care with a specific focus on paediatric and rare cancers and the social determinants in accessing cancer care.

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said: “Access for patients to high quality, affordable and timely cancer care is a key element in the fight against cancer.

“Good healthcare services improve patient outcomes, reduce the suffering and side effects of treatments as much as possible and enhance the quality of life for survivors. Good healthcare outcomes also contribute to the efficiency and sustainability of the health care systems.

“Europe’s Beating Cancer plan aims to reduce the burden of cancer for patients, their families, carers and medical staff. The plan will also focus on cancer related inequalities in and between Member States, including Ireland. Plans to support, coordinate and complement Member States’ efforts will also be addressed.”

Experts speaking at the Committee hearing included, Emer COOKE, Executive Director of the European Medicines Agency, Prof. Maciej KRZAKOWSKI, Chairman of the Polish National Council for Oncology at the Ministry of Health, Denis LACOMBE, Director-General of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, Prof. Mark LAWLER, European Cancer Organisation Board Member and Kathi APOSTOLIDIS, Board Member of the European Cancer Patient Coalition.

The BECA committee is specifically tasked with assessing opportunities for concrete EU action, outlining legislation and other measures that can help fight and prevent cancer. Adopting a holistic approach, the BECA committee aims to gain perspective and strengthen action at all stages of the disease.

So far the BECA committee hearings have focused on comprehensive information on how to support cancer research in relation to strengthening prevention, diagnosis, treatment and innovation, the most common causes of cancer related to lifestyle factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, nutrition, physical activity, prevention strategies and the effect of the environment on one’s risk of developing cancer.

Going forward, the BECA hearings will focus more on patients and their caregivers. The committee will examine what needs to be done to address health inequalities and ensure equal access for all EU citizens to screening, diagnosis and treatment, no matter where they live.

The European Commission will publish Europe’s Beating Cancer plan on Wednesday February 3rd.