Cancer screening in the EU

In 2012 almost 1.3 million lives were lost to cancer in Europe alone. Nearly half of cancer deaths can be avoided with more preventive action to address and mitigate the risks. While we aim to reduce the incidence of cancer by tackling major life-style determinants, such as smoking, nutrition and physical activity, screening remains a very effective prevention tool. Regular and systematic examinations can detect the disease early, when it is more responsive to
less aggressive treatment. Followed by appropriate care, these examinations can significantly reduce cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of cancer patients.
In 2003, the Council of the EU had issued recommendations setting out principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer. The recommendations called on all EU countries to take common action to implement
national, population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. A first report analysing the state of implementation followed in 2008 and showed that, despite progress being made, Member States still had fallen short of the target set for the minimum number of examinations by more than 50%.
The second report has now been published and allows the comparison of the national programmes by these  indicators and may eventually pave the way to define common benchmarks for cancer screening programmes in the EU.
To download the report on cancer screening in the EU from the website