Addressed stakeholders are invited to share their knowledge and national experiences on several interconnected flagship initiatives, which are linked to the leading European policies in the fight against cancer and need to be better understood in order to truly addressing the main selected challenges of modern cancer control in Europe.
1. Comprehensive Cancer Infrastructures (CCIs)
Access to high-quality cancer care integrating clinical care and research, still varies significantly not only across Europe but also within individual Member States. This situation is resulting in differences in treatment outcomes, survival rates and quality of life after treatment. These disparities need to be addressed so that every patient in every Member State can benefit from the latest innovative diagnostics and treatments.
In response to this challenge of modern cancer control, EU-wide network of Comprehensive Cancer Infrastructures (CCIs) linking recognized National Comprehensive Cancer Centres and networks in each EU Member State must be established.
These CCIs have been identified in almost all EU Member States. However, follow-up efforts are needed to discuss the concept and methodology of CCIs, as well as to explore whether and how these CCIs could become part of an EU-wide network.
EU initiatives reflected in the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and EU Cancer Mission, including EU CCIs Network establishment by 2025, will thus significantly contribute to the improvement of patients’ access to quality-assured diagnosis and treatment including best practice, state‐of‐the‐art therapy and clinical trials across Europe.
2. Future of cancer registries and European Health Data Space
Comprehensive data and information are needed to provide care to cancer patients, to effectively design and evaluate cancer policies, and to conduct cancer research in order to keep improving all parts of cancer control continuum. Strong support of all stakeholders is needed to improve cancer data infrastructures and their use, harnessing modern tools including artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. Traditional cancer registries, which for a long time have represented the backbone of cancer information, should be an important but not the sole part of modern cancer information system.
Providers of cancer care need to share data easily to provide a truly patient-centred care within comprehensive cancer infrastructures. These data need to be shared in line with clear technical and legal principles to support research and policy making on both national and EU levels. EU wide policies, namely European Health Data Space, and tools, including European Cancer Information System and European Cancer Inequalities Registry, should be important facilitators of this complex approach to share and use cancer data effectively.
3. Improving early detection of cancer and screening schemes in the EU
One of significant challenges in cancer control is late detection of many cancer entities. Whereas early detection of some cancers, namely pancreatic cancer, remains difficult and new innovative tools need to be developed by researchers, in several cancers the science of early detection is clear. We can significantly decrease mortality of breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer through population-based screening programmes. It is necessary to implement these programmes as widely as possible, to ensure their high quality, and to remove all possible barriers so that as many people from eligible target groups as possible can participate. Effective tests for early detection of lung cancer and prostate cancer exist and need to be introduced appropriately in an organised fashion to maximize benefits and minimize harms. Data on cancer screening and early detection should be part of cancer information systems on the national and EU levels to ensure their continuous improvement.
A revision of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening is high on the agenda of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which will make every effort to ensure smooth deliberation with a view to have the Recommendation adopted by the EPSCO Council in December. It is important to support swift implementation of the Recommendation to ensure that citizens in the EU have access to high quality cancer screening programmes and can benefit from improved cancer survival. Moreover, early detection through improved health literacy and patient-centred networking of cancer care should be promoted beyond organised cancer screening programmes.