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Home » Cancer Momentum: Fighting Cancer Inequalities in the EU Event at the European Parliament

Cancer Momentum: Fighting Cancer Inequalities in the EU Event at the European Parliament

    On Wednesday, February 14th, Cancer Patients Europe (CPE) and the Central European Cooperative Oncology Group (CECOG), in collaboration with Members of the European Parliament from the European People’s Party (EPP) and the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) groups, held a discussion addressing the current inequalities in cancer care across the European Union.

    In this discussion, CECOG and CPE presented their joint manifesto urging the need to prioritise positive cancer care outcomes for all cancer patients in this European Semester such as:

    1) Pilot the inclusion of cancer and indicators in the European Semester process.

    2) Develop the Inequalities Registry further with the aim to create a European dashboard to be included in the European Semester pilot.

    The event addressed the significant disparities in cancer care across Europe, as outlined in the joint manifesto by CPE and CECOG which was presented in front of a multi-stakeholder group inside the European Parliament.

    As the event also highlighted, disparities are evident across the entire cancer pathway, from prevention to survivorship care.

    Dr. Caroline Berchet, health economist at the OECD Health Division, presented key findings from the recently published “Beating Cancer Inequalities in the EU: Spotlight on Cancer Prevention and Early Detection” report. She emphasised the increase in the prevalence of cancer between 2011 and 2022 and presented the facts showcasing significant cancer care disparities between Eastern, Western and Norther EU countries. “Health literacy and policy actions are necessary to prevent cancer” she quoted, while adding that “If we want to drive action, we need to have more data”.

    Patient Advocate and Founder of the Romanian Community Health Association, Alina Comanescu highlighted that disparities in cancer care remain a harsh reality in many European countries, while referring to the differences in terms of screening and survivorship rates for common cancer types. “I passionately advocate for a patient-centred healthcare system and strive towards patient-driven healthcare systems”, she affirmed.

    Patrycja Rzadkowska, patient advocate, board member of EuropaColon Poland and Pancreatic Cancer Europe, outlined numerous barriers that patients face in her home country, namely, living in remote areas where no transport is available, waiting time to get an appointment, delays in diagnosis and early detection and health illiteracy among others. Rzadkowska who is also a psychologist specialised in Psycho Oncology, stated that “Change is possible as we have seen in Poland, and it can be achieved with institutional commitment.

    The Members of the European Parliament Andreas Schieder (S&D), Cristian Bușoi (EPP), and Tomislav Sokol (EPP) highlighted the importance of prioritising positive cancer outcomes during this European Semester. These calls were further echoed by CECOG President Prof Christoph Zielinski and CPE Chair Dr Francisco Lozano.

    The panel discussion provided a great opportunity for all involved to call for a multidisciplinary approach to improve patient outcomes and eliminate inequalities; emphasising the importance of aligning stakeholders, adaptive pathway initiatives, and early dialogue to address these issues effectively. Finally, the idea to go outside the healthcare sphere and involve financial experts was brought forward.