Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network

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Why this Network?

Primary prevention interventions, aimed at preventing the onset of cancer through action on modifiable risk factors, are the most cost-effective strategy in the control of cancer. These notably include population-wide awareness campaigns, such as the European Code Against Cancer, and legislative or regulatory initiatives, such as on tobacco control, alcohol, improving diet and encouraging exercise.

Secondary prevention measures, such as cancer screening, and other policies aimed at achieving earlier diagnosis of cancer can also help achieve dramatically improved outcomes for patients.

However, policy recommendations in these areas are not always without controversy. The Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network, bringing together a wide range of experts and stakeholders, from the European Cancer Organisation Member Societies, Patient Advisory Committee and Community 365, has therefore been established with a core potential role of driving fresh and stronger consensus in areas chosen by its participants for focus.

Get Involved - Cancer Screening

Read our open letter in relation to developments that have taken place in respect to the approving of new EU Council Recommendations on Cancer Screening:

Adopting a Holistic Approach to Cancer Prevention

Following a meeting of interested Member Societies and Patient Advocates in mid-July 2020, the immediate initial focus of the Network was identified as secondary cancer prevention (screening and early diagnosis). Additional work on primary prevention, amplifying the existing activities of Network participants and promoting collaboration with other international organisations, is also conducted by the Network.

On this basis, the Network presented its early considerations during its dedicated session at the European Cancer Summit 2020, where a resolution was passed with key initial recommendations of the Network to take European cooperation on cancer screening to the next level, in the context of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan: 

  • An evidence-led update to the 2003 EU Screening recommendations including dedicated consideration of screening policies for tumour types such as lung & prostate cancer​ 
  • A European Cancer Dashboard that monitors screening coverage and quality performance​ 
  • A European Platform for screening agencies to facilitate rapid best practice-sharing​ 
  • EU research initiatives supporting screening related policy needs, such as new behavioural research insights, impact assessment, the application of risk stratification approaches, and how to examine and assess new screening options.” 

The Network has been delighted that a number of these asks have been incorporated into Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’s dedicated pillars on cancer prevention and early detection. 

European Cancer Summit 2022 Session: Saving Lives by Anticipating Actions - Getting it right on Screening and Early Detection

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Earlier is Better: Advancing Cancer Screening and Early Detection

Community 365 Roundtable on Early Detection and Screening

Presentation by Isabel Rubio, Co-Chair of the Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network, at the Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on Early Detection and Screening in June 2021.

In respect to its priority focus on secondary cancer prevention, the Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network held in June 2021 a special Community 365 Roundtable Event on Cancer Early Detection and Screening. The meeting brought together leading policy-makers, politicians, oncology experts and patient advocates to discuss the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and Cancer Mission in respect to: 

  • Key scientific and technological developments in improving early detection for all cancers 
  • Reviewing the experience of EU level initiatives on breast and colorectal cancer screening since the 2003 EU Council Recommendations on cancer screening 
  • The case for EU level initiatives to support lung cancer screening and early detection strategies for prostate cancer 

Based on key reflections shared at this Roundtable event and on the occasion of its dedicated session at the European Cancer Summit 2021, the Network published a landmark stakeholder consensus statement outlining its key recommendations: “Earlier is Better: Advancing Cancer Screening and Early Detection”.  

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Produced in consultation with the European Cancer Organisation’s community, especially with the participants in the Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network, the report sets out a number of pressing needs to be encapsulated in the formal advice on cancer screening from the European Commission and Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM) to EU Member States, including: 

  • Developing EU Council Recommendations covering both cancer screening and early detection 
  • Reflecting scientific and practice developments in cancer screening, including the greater deployment of risk-based approaches 
  • Including ambitious goals and advice on improved screening and early detection strategies for further tumour types, including lung, prostate and other cancers 
  • Increasing population awareness of potential warning signs of cancer 
  • Leveraging the advancement of new technologies in cancer early detection across tumour types, including Next-Generation Sequencing, AI and liquid biopsies
Key Report on Primary Prevention
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In addition and in order to foster international and cross-disease collaboration in primary prevention whilst amplifying key initiatives in the field, the Prevention, Early Detection and Screening Network held in May 2021 a High-Level Meeting on Primary Prevention, co-chaired by Matti Aapro, President of the European Cancer Organisation, and Rui Medeiros, President of the Association of European Cancer Leagues.

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Presentation by WHO Europe Cancer Ambassador, Aron Anderson, at the High-Level Meeting on Primary Prevention held on 28 May 2021.

The meeting brought together leading experts in primary prevention of cancer and other non-communicable diseases, including representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and many others.

Building upon presentations and discussions at the meeting, the Network subsequently published an Action Report ‘Primary Prevention: United for Action’, incorporating concrete consensus recommendations on actions to be taken in following areas: 

  • A Tobacco Free Europe: Reaching Our Destination Faster 
  • Action On Alcohol: New Windows of Opportunity 
  • Diet, Lifestyle and Preventing Cancer Through Improved Obesity Treatment 
  • Putting UV Radiation Protection In the Spotlight 

In the context of the meeting, the Network also set up a Primary Prevention Hub, bringing together resources and information from the European Cancer Organisation Member Societies, Patient Advisory Committee and other stakeholders from the cancer and wider non-communicable disease communities in respect to primary prevention. 

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  • Read the ‘Primary Prevention: United for Action’ Report here
  • Watch the High-Level Meeting recording here
  • Access the Primary Prevention Hub here

Connecting Cancer Science to Policy Opportunities in Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Screening 

Based on its agreed consensus positioning and in a context of intense policy activity around cancer prevention, the Network is exploiting available opportunities to convey its asks to relevant decision-makers. So far, this has included: 

  • Responding to several European Commission consultations, such as in respect to food labelling, alcohol labelling and air quality 
  • Engaging in providing advice to the European Commission on the implementation of a ‘Health Literacy for Cancer Prevention and Care’ initiative, as outlined in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan 
  • Contributing to the European Cancer Organisation’s Time To Act campaign on the impact of Covid-19 on cancer, in respect to: 

    - Quantifying the impact of Covid-19 on cancer screening and diagnosis at European and national level through the Time To Act Data Navigator 
    - Raising public awareness on cancer warning signs and the importance of monitoring them to allow for early detection of cancer 
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To find out more about this Network, or support our work, please contact us here.

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