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newsWorld Cancer Day - What the EU is doing to fight cancer

World Cancer Day is this year being held for the 20th time. Fighting cancer is one of the EU’s health priorities. Read on to find out more about the measures in place.

Launched 20 years ago, World Cancer Day on 4 February is a global initiative to raise awareness and increase action. Research and innovation on cancer has always been one of the EU’s health priorities.

Read more about what the EU does to improve public health

EU cancer statistics

Three million people were newly diagnosed with cancer and 1.4 million people died from cancer in the EU in 2018. This makes cancer the second leading cause of mortality after cardiovascular diseases. In many EU countries, it is the number one cause of death for people aged 45 to 64.

Cancer cases
  • Every nine seconds a new case of cancer is diagnosed in the EU
  • By 2035, the number of cancer cases could be doubled and an estimated 40% of the population will face cancer at some point in their lives
  • There are more than 100 types of cancer

EU measures to fight cancer

Cancer can affect everyone, at any age. Polish MEP Janina Ochojska (EPP), who is being treated for breast cancer, sees it this way: “This is something that somehow connects Europe. Because together we fight something that affects everyone. Nobody is excluded from this lottery.”

Since 2007, the EU has invested about three billion euros in various activities such as research projects, clinical trials and training programmes.

The EU also complements member states’ efforts by:

  • making it easier to cooperate and share information
  • adopting legislation to address risk factors (such as tobaccocarcinogens or pesticides)
  • running awareness rising campaigns

Parliament is asking among others for cancer prevention, early detection and access to quality care for all patients.

"The EU should do more, work harder, push member states to adopt the necessary screening programmes that help diagnose cancer early," said Parliament President David Sassoli

A new EU action plan

The European Commission is working on an ambitious EU action plan: the Europe Beating Cancer Plan. A conference taking place in the European Parliament on 4 February will be an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to it.

Copyright European Union