Inequalities Network

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Why a Network on Inequalities?

Levels of health inequality between countries and regions with respect to cancer prevention, control, access to treatment and survival can no longer be ignored. Inequalities also occur within countries, between regions, and between social groups.

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 Sarah Collen, is shining a spotlight on the readily available policy mechanisms to bridge gaps and raise standards and outcomes in cancer care across all of Europe, for all groups in society.

A strong alignment in this work is made with the European Code of Cancer Practice and its aspiration to ensure every cancer patient in Europe has their rights to quality treatment and care upheld, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status or geographic location.

With the personal commitment of EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides to combatting inequalities in cancer care, the time is now to make progress!

Our Inequalities Network dedicates itself to driving consensus, presenting policy recommendations and solutions, and sharing best practices in relation to the inequalities and challenges associated to:  

  • The East-West Divide 
  • Gender 
  • Ethnicity 
  • Age 
  • Sexuality and Identity 
  • Health Literacy and Patient Education 
  • Other Marginalised Groups 
New initiatives Launched at the European Cancer Summit 2022

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The European Cancer Pulse will complement the European Cancer Inequalities Registry, but with a vast array of additional metrics and a much simpler format. This will allow for more in-depth comparisons between countries and a greater understanding of the resources each is devoting to the fight against cancer. We believe these new data will be of considerable help to the EU Beating Cancer Plan by providing a more comprehensive picture of inequalities across Europe.

European Cancer Summit 2022: Action on Cancer Inequalities - Our Shared Roadmap

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The LGBTQI+ Workstream of the Inequalities Network also held an informal first meeting during the Summit with Inequalities Network Co-Chair Nicolò Battisti and Cianán Russell, Senior Policy Officer, ILGA Europe:

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Publication on Cancer Literacy

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Action Report on Men and Cancer

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Men bear an excess burden of cancer, in terms of both incidence and mortality. In the EU-27 in 2020, there were 1.44 million cancer cases in men and 1.24 million in women. 705,000 men died from cancer compared to 555,000 women. Excluding breast cancer (which is rare in men) and the sex-specific cancers (such as cervical and prostate cancers), the incidence and mortality rates for all cancers are higher in men except for thyroid and gallbladder cancers.

But this significant inequality is rarely acknowledged or discussed by policy makers or service providers. Consequently, action is rarely taken to address and tackle it. The roundtable aimed to change this.

After the presentations and contributions shared during the April 2022 ECO Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on Men and Cancer, we published our action report Men and Cancer: Raising the issues.

Read more here.

Action Report on Beating Inequalities

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The Action Report “It Can Be Done – Beating Inequalities in Cancer Care” was produced spotlighting inequity that exists in all parts of cancer care, in all countries. 

Key points of advice for national health systems include: 

  • Enshrining the ten key rights of cancer patients set out in the European Code of Cancer Practice as a core tool and paradigm for delivering equitable cancer care 
  • Ensuring wide access to reliable data to better identify national cancer control priorities and the accompanying development of cancer policies that truly reflect the local context 
  • From this, fully implementing data-driven national cancer control plans (NCCP) in all countries 
  • Treating each cancer patient as an individual, not a simple representative of an age category. Cancer care must take individual account of the patient’s health status, associated comorbidities and socioeconomic situation 
  • All national cancer plans should include dedicated attention to the needs of older cancer patients 
  • Deploying standardised treatment pathways to ensure all cancer patients receive quality care along the patient pathway 

View the video recording of the meeting and the presentation slides here.

ASCO-ECO Joint Virtual Meeting on Inequalities in Cancer Care 

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The European Cancer Organisation joined forces with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in organising a virtual meeting on inequalities in cancer care. Our President, Matti Aapro, and Everett E. Vokes, President of ASCO, co-chaired a meeting that led to a great and engaging discussion on the inequalities in cancer care across the United States and Europe. The international exchange provided a better understanding of various challenges relating to socio-economics and race inequalities from both perspectives. 

You can watch the meeting video here.

To find out more about this Network, or support our work, please contact us here.

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