Levels of health inequality between countries and regions with respect to cancer prevention, control, access to treatment and survival can no longer be ignored. In 2018, countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) reported the lowest incidence rates for cancer in males and females (280.1 and 216.5 million respectively) yet the highest mortality rates (171 and 92 million respectively) in comparison to the countries in Northern, Southern and Western Europe.
Inequalities also occur within countries, between regions, and between social groups. For example, in respect to cancer, it is often observed that more privileged groups record better outcomes because they have fewer risk factors for cancer, can take advantage of new interventions and screening programmes more quickly, have easier access to health services, and can minimise the social and financial consequences of cancer when it occurs.
The inequalities that can arise with respect to marginalised and vulnerable groups should not be overlooked either. As just one example for illustrative purposes, studies have found that migrant populations have greater difficulty navigating unfamiliar healthcare systems, are less likely to participate in screening programmes and may also find themselves denied cancer treatment.
Driven by a common desire to achieve urgent actions to address these problems, the Network on Inequalities, led by Co-Chairs Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti and Hendrik Van Poppel, will help to shine a spotlight on the readily available policy mechanism to bridge gaps and raise standards and outcomes in cancer care across all of Europe, for all groups in society. In so doing, the Network will build strongly on the existing work of Network members, and liaise closely with the EU institutions and others in providing advice and recommendations.
Immediate priorities for the Network, including a position paper, have been identified as workstreams on the following Inequalities:
The organisations involved in the Inequalities Network have kindly provided relevant links to their work in this Network which can be accessed under “Related Resources” on the right-hand side of this page.
A first exposition of the Network’s actions will take place at the European Cancer Summit on 18 & 19 November 2020 during the session “Inequalities: Disparities and Discrimination in Cancer Care”. We invite you to join us. More information here.