Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan brings hope to PCa patients

03 February 2021 Mrs. Sarah Collen, EAU Policy Coordinator

Prostate cancer among the cancers considered for possible extension of targeted cancer screening

We warmly welcome the launch of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan of the European Commission, in particular the planned activities under early detection. The Commission aims to propose an update on the European Council’s Recommendation on cancer screening by 2022, including the potential addition of new cancers such as prostate cancer.

This gives the EU a unique opportunity to tackle the current unacceptable rise in mortality rates and ‘too late’ diagnoses of prostate cancer while avoiding the overdiagnosis and overtreatment challenges of the past. If Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan can harmonise an approach across the EU with regards to early detection of prostate cancer, we believe this will not only decrease mortality from prostate cancer but also support EU member states to sort out the current mess of opportunistic testing for prostate cancer, which has proven to be ineffective, with no mortality reduction and considerable risk of overdiagnosis. We at the EAU stand prepared to work with the Commission to provide scientific evidence and guidance on a clear and strategic approach to early detection of prostate cancer throughout Europe.

Linked to the EU Cancer research mission, which will develop novel approaches for screening and early detection and provide options to extend screening to new cancers, this welcome announcement could unlock a new era of better outcomes for prostate cancer patients.

Innovation on prostate cancer
EAU leads the academic consortium of the IMI’s Big Data for Better Outcomes programme on prostate cancer, which is three years into a five-year programme of creating a federated platform which can support necessary research. We are certain that this can contribute to several initiatives addressed in the plan: the European Knowledge Centre on Cancer, the European Initiative to Understand Cancer (UNCAN.eu), the European Cancer Imaging Initiative and the broader European health data space to support research and innovation on prostate cancer.

We also believe that the creation of National Comprehensive Cancer Centres and inter-specialty training programmes (for oncology, surgery and radiotherapy) are promising steps towards a more effective and holistic diagnostic and treatment package for cancer patients across the EU.

Why prioritise prostate cancer?
Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan was published as Europe is facing a growing challenge from prostate cancer, the most diagnosed male cancer and the second leading cause of male cancer death. Every year, around 450,000 European men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, with over 2 million men across the EU now living with the disease. On top of this, the Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the same demographics as prostate cancer: older men, especially those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

Now is the time to change the outcomes for men across Europe. The recognition of prostate cancer in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan as one of the cancers to be considered for the possible extension of targeted cancer screening is a first milestone in achieving this.

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