Surprising Revelations on Cancer Care Inequalities in Europe

03 May 2023

The Lancet Oncology publication highlights a new, online tool to compare cancer data across Europe

Only 12 of the 27 EU Member States have an up-to-date national cancer control plan. That’s just one of many startling statistics from the new ‘European Cancer Pulse’, an online data tool of the European Cancer Organisation (ECO) and featured today in the world-renowned The Lancet Oncology journal.

 “How can you ever improve cancer care in a country that lacks an up-to-date national cancer plan?” said Professor Mark Lawler, Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University, Belfast, ECO board member and Scientific Lead of the European Cancer Pulse project. “The European Cancer Pulse shines a critical light on which countries are falling behind on cancer care – and specifically how. It empowers us to use data intelligence to identify the problems, but more importantly to do something about them”.

The new user-friendly tool features more than 120 data measurements – from 34 countries throughout the European Union, and beyond. It allows anyone to quickly and easily discover cancer care disparities between countries. For example, the inequality in relation to workforce issues: how Germany has 1,395 nurses per 100,000 inhabitants, whereas for the UK that number drops to 778.

The new tool complements the existing European Commission’s Cancer Inequalities Registry, pulling together key additional facts and figures from many more European countries: How much is a country spending on cancer research? How many CT or PET scanners does it have? What percentage of citizens know about cancer risks and symptoms? How is the level of cancer care received influenced by a person’s income, gender, age, education, and other social factors?

“The European Cancer Pulse is a new home for new data, bringing together the excellent work done by the European cancer community” said ECO President, Andreas Charalambous. “Improving cancer care requires measuring and highlighting what each country is doing and comparing it to other countries. Where are we ahead? Where are we lagging – and why?”

Additional data are being added to the European Cancer Pulse regularly, helping to reflect the full scope of cancer research and care in Europe and to monitor improvements – or lack thereof. This includes ongoing research on cancer workforce capacity limits and social inequities affecting marginalised populations in cancer.

Emerging evidence shows that there is still a long way to go before equitable access to cancer prevention, research and care is achieved across Europe. Aside from existing inequities, persistent issues such as the health workforce crisis represent significant risks for deteriorating outcomes in the coming years. The influence of the COVID pandemic is also critical. “Our data intelligence indicates that solving these health and cancer disparities must be prioritised at a political level, both Europe wide and nationally, in order to improve the lives of those European citizens affected by cancer,” added Professor Lawler. “The European Cancer Pulse represents a crucial asset that we must deploy effectively in our fight against cancer.”

The Lancet Oncology link: HERE
Link to the countries fact sheet: HERE

Press contact:
Ana Mula, Communication Officer, European Cancer Organisation