The European parliament has backed a commission proposal to set up a European Partnership for Action Against Cancer.
The resolution drafted by Slovenian MEP Alojz Peterle, right, and adopted by show of hands, will provide for a partnership for the period 2009-2013 to support member states' efforts to tackle cancer. All member states are urged to set up integrated cancer plans, to help achieve the partnership’s long-term aim of reducing cancer by 15% by 2020. It is hoped that particular efforts will be directed towards the new member states.
Prevention 'most cost-effective'
With more than 3 million new cases and 1.7 million deaths each year, cancer is the second biggest cause of death in Europe. But, says the resolution, prevention is the most cost-effective response as one third of cancers are preventable. More resources should go into prevention, healthy lifestyles should be encouraged and 'information campaigns on cancer screening' should be 'directed at the general public and all healthcare providers'.
More support is also needed for research into cancer prevention, say MEPs, including the effects of harmful chemicals and environmental pollutants, nutrition, lifestyle and genetic factors. The links between cancer and risk factors such as tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical and synthetic hormones should be investigated.
Lastly, argue MEPs, cancer medicines, including treatments for rare and less common cancers, should be uniformly available to all patients who need them, and inequalities of access to cancer treatment and care must be reduced, including the new ‘targeted’ cancer drugs recently put on the market.