On 16th February 2022, the European Parliament adopted the report of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) with 652 votes in favour, 15 against and 27 abstentions. This report puts forward several recommendations for a comprehensive and coordinated EU strategy to fight cancer. In particular, it highlights the necessity of focusing not only on care, but on prevention.
Indeed, more than 40% of all cancers are preventable through actions targeting behaviour-related risk factors. As such, the report recommends promoting and facilitating the practice of physical activity throughout life as it is “known to limit both the incidence and the recurrence of cancer, as well as to reduce mental health problems and to favour social inclusion.” It is therefore very important for Member States to do more in order to encourage people to be more active, more often. In addition to regular exercise, the document also recommends developing actions targeting tobacco and alcohol consumption, as well as a mandatory nutritional label for food products.
Improving cancer diagnosis and treatment is also a major part of the report. It is therefore recommended to reform existing legislative frameworks so as to facilitate cross-border cancer care, and for Member States to work together to prevent medicine shortages. This would greatly contribute to cancer treatments becoming more accessible and affordable. The report also calls for guaranteeing the ‘right to be forgotten’ for all EU patients after ten years and ensuring more transparency in the pharmaceutical system.
On the adoption of the report, BECA Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew Europe, FR) said that “We will finally be able to fight effectively, together, against the health inequalities that persist within the European Union and respond to the needs of millions of Europeans affected by this disease. Today, the European Health Union is moving forward.”
The report is accessible here.