Breast cancer care

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Europe.
It is the most deadly cancer in women: one out of every six women with cancer will die from breast cancer.
In addition, incidence and mortality rates for breast cancer vary widely between countries: although a higher mortality rate in some countries may be due to a higher incidence rate, in others it is due to a lower rate of survival. This reflects major inequalities, including diverse quality of care.
The European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer is a person-centred, sustainable initiative aimed at improving and harmonising breast cancer care across Europe. It will include training templates and a platform of guidelines.
To download the leaflet on the Initiative on Breast Cancer from the website

Better protection against cancer-causing chemicals

Cancer is the first cause of work-related deaths in the EU, accounting for 53% of the total and therefore the single biggest health risk to workers in the European Union.

The Commission will improve workers protection by added new limit values in the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive for 13 cancer-causing chemicals. These limit values set a maximum concentration for the presence of a chemical carcinogen in the workplace air. The proposal is based on scientific evidence and follows broad discussions with scientists, employers, workers, Member States’ representatives and labour inspectors.

Introducing these limit values will lead to fewer cases of occupational cancer. They will also promote consistency by defining a ‘level playing field’ for all users and a common objective for employers, workers and enforcement authorities. The proposal therefore leads to a more efficient system of workers’ health protection and improved fairness in the single market.

To read the factsheet on the 13 cancer-causing chemicals on the website.

Additives in tobacco products

The European Commission and its independent Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) have published their final Opinion on Additives used in tobacco products, identifying those that should be placed on the priority list foreseen in the Tobacco Products Directive.
The SCENIHR identified 48 single chemicals to be placed on the priority list. These compounds were selected because they have or are suspected to have one or more of the following properties:
• toxicity in unburned form (including carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction)
• facilitating inhalation or increasing nicotine uptake, which may contribute to addictiveness
• characterising flavour, one of the factors potentially contributing to attractiveness
• formation of any kind of toxic chemicals after combustion
The full list of additives and details about their selection can be found in the Opinion, on the website

More information about the Tobacco Products Directive on the website

The health effects of sunbeds

Based on the available scientific evidence, the EU’s independent scientific committee has published its preliminary opinion that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a complete carcinogen, both an initiator, and a promoter. There is strong evidence that sunbed exposure causes skin melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and, to a lesser extent, basal cell carcinoma, especially when exposure starts young. There is also some evidence that sunbed exposure may cause ocular melanoma. Sunbed use is responsible for a noticeable proportion of both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers and for a large percentage of melanomas arising before the age of 30. The committee also concluded that sunbed exposure has few health benefits, and there is no need to use sunbeds for optimal Vitamin D levels. Because of evidence of the carcinogenic effects of sunbed exposure and of the nature of skin cancer induction (there are no indications for threshold levels of UV-irradiance and UV–dose), there is no safe limit for UV irradiance from sunbeds.

This opinion has been published for public consultation and people have until March 21st to respond.

To take part in the consultation, on the website.


The European code against cancer

Cancer incidence is rising in the WHO European Region – the total number of new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 was 3.7 million, and the number is estimated to increase by 25% by 2030, to reach 4.6 million.

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has issued a new edition of a code of actions that lists 12 ways people can adopt healthier lifestyles. It is estimated that almost half of all deaths due to cancer in Europe could be avoided if everyone followed the recommendations.

  1. Do not smoke or use any form of tobacco.
  2. Make your home smoke free. Support smoke-free policies in your workplace.
  3. Take action to have a healthy body weight.
  4. Be physically active in everyday life. Limit the time you spend sitting.
  5. Have a healthy diet:
    • Eat plenty of whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits.
    • Limit high-calorie foods (foods high in sugar or fat), and avoid sugary drinks.
    • Avoid processed meat; limit red meat and foods high in salt.
  6. If you drink alcohol, limit your intake. Not drinking alcohol can prevent cancer.
  7. Avoid too much sun, especially for children. Use sun protection. Do not use sunbeds.
  8. In the workplace, protect yourself against cancer-causing substances by following health and safety instructions.
  9. Find out if you are exposed to radiation from naturally high radon levels in your home. Take action to reduce high radon levels.
  10. For women:
    • If you can, breastfeed your baby as this reduces your cancer risk.
    • Limit use of hormone replacement therapy, which increases the risks for certain cancers.
  11. Ensure that your children are vaccinated against:
    • Hepatitis B (for newborns)
    • Human papillomavirus (for girls)
  12. Take part in organized cancer screening programmes for:
    • Bowel cancer (men and women)
    • Breast cancer (women)
    • Cervical cancer (women)

To read more about the code on the website

Main causes of cancer deaths 2013

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in OECD countries after cardiovascular diseases, accounting for 25% of all deaths in 2013. Lung cancer is still by far the most common cause of death from cancer among men (26%), followed by colorectal cancer (11%) and prostate cancer (9%). Lung cancer is also the most common cause of cancer mortality among women (17%), followed by breast cancer (15%) and colorectal cancer (12%). Further reduction in smoking is the key to reducing mortality from lung cancer.

To see the OECD graph, click here on

Psychosocial factors linked to chronic diseases

This report summarizes the best available evidence for a link between psychosocial factors and morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases and cancer in Europe. The psychosocial factors repeatedly identified as related to chronic diseases include high job demand, low autonomy, low control or high effort-reward   imbalance, interpersonal conflicts and low social support or low trust. Psychosocial factors might therefore become part of complex total risk-reducing interventions focusing on multiple risk factors.

To download the report, click here on

Cervical cancer hits the developing world hard

Cervical cancer is one of the deadliest, yet most easily prevented, forms of cancer for women, causing over 270,000 deaths a year, 85% of which occur in developing countries.

It is estimated that over one million women worldwide are currently living with cervical cancer and the majority of these have no access to health services for prevention, curative treatment or palliative care.

A new publication from WHO, “Comprehensive cervical cancer control: a guide to essential practice” includes the following guidance to make cancer prevention more affordable for struggling health systems:

  • Vaccinate 9 to 13-year-old girls with two doses of HPV vaccine, rather than the current 3-dose schedule as it has proved to be just as effective
  • Use HPV tests to screen women for cervical cancer prevention as this will reduce the frequency of screening
  • Communicate with a wider audience, including adolescents, parents, educators, leaders and people working at all levels of the health system, to reach women throughout their lives

The guide also highlights the importance of addressing gender discrimination and other inequities related to wealth, class, education, religion and ethnicity in the design of health policies and programmes.

To read the full guide, click here on