ECO Welcomes Draft New EU Recommendations on Cancer Screening

20 September 2022

The European Commission today published new, more ambitious proposals for cancer screening across Europe. As part of its Beating Cancer Plan, the recommendations should help EU countries expand coverage so that 90% of the EU population that qualifies for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings would be offered the tests by 2025. Although the new proposals are not legally binding on Member States, they offer important guidance on achieving these critical targets.

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) welcomes today’s publication, including suggestions on how to expand screening for three cancers while adding coverage for other cancers such as prostate, lung and gastric cancer.

From Professor Andreas Charalambous, President of the European Cancer Organisation:

"The European Cancer Organisation was pleased to bring its member societies, patient organisations and many others to a consensus position on cancer screening and early detection via its 2021 paper ‘Earlier is Better’. Our paper made a strong case for updating the recommendations for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer, and to expand coverage to new tumour types. Beyond screening, we must not forget the opportunities for improving early detection of all cancer types through new technologies and practices, such as AI, liquid biopsy, genetic and genomic technologies, and increased public awareness of the early warning signs."

From Dr Isabel Rubio, Co-Chair of the ECO Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network:

"Since 2003, the world of screening and early detection has advanced considerably. This includes targeting more cancers, the introduction of new technologies and practices, and the improvement of validated risk prediction models in cancer screening. It is welcome news that new recommendations to EU Member States reflect these changes and encourage all countries to bring their cancer screening approaches up to date with the latest evidence. The challenge now is ensuring a robust implementation and monitoring framework to turn words into action."

From Prof Jan van Meerbeeck, Co-Chair of the ECO Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network:

"What is so encouraging about the Commission’s proposed update is the time that was taken to hear from – and reflect on – evidence from leading European experts. The case for introducing additional screening programmes to the recommendations, such as for lung, prostate, and gastric cancer, has been much needed and the European cancer community is gratified to see their inclusion in the Commission’s proposal. Earlier detection will save thousands of lives. It’s a moral imperative now to assist countries in bringing the recommendations into reality."