Combating cancer on plenary agenda Wednesday


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How to extend best practice across Europe for cancer screening and treatment will be discussed on Wednesday 9 April

Fatal cancers claim a million people in Europe a year and there are wide disparities in screening and treatment. The main dangers are lung, bowel and breast cancers. Meeting in Brussels this week for a 2-day plenary session, MEPs will debate the issues with probable new EU Health Commissioner Androula Vassiliou. A 50% increase in screening is one issue likely to be debated.

Disparities in cancer treatment and screening across Europe are most marked in the five year survival rate across Europe. In particular death rates in the 10 mainly central and eastern countries that joined the Union in 2004 are higher than in Western Europe.

The figures for the number of cancer sufferers show this is a Europe-wide affliction. An estimated one third of all Europeans will be affected by cancer and this number is likely to increase as the population ages. Around 8% of all cancers are caused by exposure to carcinogens at work and 25% of all cancer deaths in the EU can be attributed to smoking

The oral question to put to Ms Vassiliou comes in the wake of a January resolution of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on “Combating cancer in the enlarged EU”. The current Slovene Presidency of the European Union has also made prevention of cancer the centrepiece of its term of office.

Treating preventable cancers

The draft parliamentary resolution calls for an increase in the proportion of the population taking part in cancer screening measures by at least 50% in each of the EU states by 2018. It also wants steps to reduce exposure to carcinogens at work. Another step advocated is an EU Cancer Task Force. You can watch all the debates live online from Brussels on Wednesday 9 April from 1500 CET.

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