Message from the President

31 July 2020

Ahead of the summer, the EU institutions have intensified their efforts with several notable consultations and actions in respect to cancer.

The European Cancer Organisation was commissioned by the European Parliament to produce a landmark study ‘Strengthening Europe in the Fight Against Cancer: Going Further, Faster’. The new study sets out in detail the opportunities available to EU in the battle against cancer, the immediate chances we have to accelerate progress and achieve heightened levels of access, and, in so doing, amplifying the work of our 31 Member Societies and 20 groups from our Patient Advocacy Committee.

I would personally like to thank all of you that contributed to the study and would like to encourage its widest sharing to help ensure uptake and progress on its recommendations. We will be using the study in our meetings with the EU Commissioner, Members of the European Parliament, EU Commission officials and others to ensure the contents you have provided are well understood by policy-makers across Europe.

The European Commission has published the Interim Report of the Mission Board for Cancer. This remains a draft outline of what the Mission Board considers should be the core components of the EU Cancer Mission, which will commence in 2021.

I congratulate the Cancer Mission Board and Assembly, on which I sit, for their work in developing this encouraging outline. Taking a comprehensive approach of research needs throughout the care continuum is exactly what is needed. It is pleasing to see emphasis on critical issues such as inequalities, improving data collaboration, and paying due attention to cancer survivor needs, for patients of all ages.

From the inception of the Cancer Mission concept, the European Cancer Organisation has called for a Mission that is suitably bold and ambitious, and that links closely with Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and other relevant EU initiatives to achieve the very maximum effect in preventing and treating cancer, and addressing its short-term and long-term negative health and economic effects.

We will have the opportunity at the European Cancer Summit 2020 on 18 & 19 November to discuss these points and look forward to the publication of the final outline of the Mission Board in December.

The European Parliament has now established a Special Committee on Beating Cancer. It represents an important step in the long-term dedication of many members of the Parliament to the fight against cancer. We applaud that the representatives of Europe’s citizens are taking this once-in-a-generation opportunity to elevate and accelerate EU Cancer Policy.

We encourage the Special Committee to help ensure the Beating Cancer Plan, EU Cancer Mission and other connected initiatives are bold, ambitious and inspiring. Key cross-cutting issues such as tackling inequalities, enhancing our workforce and giving focus to the quality of cancer care that patients receive, should be important areas of the Committee’s attention.

Recently we also welcomed the creation of a new Intergroup of the European Parliament, 'Challenge Cancer', as a new forum for assisting Members of the European Parliament in scrutinising and improving current initiatives of the EU impacting cancer care. More information is available here.

And, of course, we continue to work closely with MEPs Against Cancer and our colleagues at ECL, in their long-standing efforts to support policy action. They have played such a key role in getting us to this point, where Cancer is under the spotlight in several EU initiatives. In particular, we thank their Co-Chair Veronique Trillet-Lenoir, MEP, an oncologist herself for her leadership of MEPs Against Cancer and for being part of a growing list of MEPs speaking at the European Cancer Summit.

In the past month, the European Cancer Organisation has contributed to two important consultations: 

  • New EU Pharmaceutical Strategy. Amongst other points, we emphasised a need to review incentive structures for innovation to better align with value and outcomes, and to ensure a more supportive environment in Europe for innovation in all modalities of treatment. Read response of the European Cancer Organisation to the Roadmap Consultation here.

  • WHO Europe’s Draft Programme of Work, 2020–2025. We called for greater emphasis on supporting the achievement of the WHO’s Cervical Cancer Elimination Strategy in Europe as well as stronger attention to the role WHO Europe can give to supporting countries in disease screening. Read the full response of the European Cancer Organisation here.

We also provided MEPs with our thoughts on the development of the new EU4Health Programme, including suggestions on how it can specifically support the achievement of big European goals on cancer, including our suggestion of a European Cancer Dashboard to continually monitor progress. More here.

We thank Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, for having just confirmed her participation in the launch event of the European Code of Cancer Practice on 23 September at 15:00 CEST. Further details with an invitation to participate will be shared with our community in early August.

Best wishes

Dr Matti Aapro
President, European Cancer Organisation


Dr Matti Aapro, President, European Cancer Organisation Dr Matti Aapro, President, European Cancer Organisation