SCIENCE ADVICE FOR POLICY
BY EUROPEAN ACADEMIES

Improving cancer screening in the European Union

Organised cancer screening programmes save lives. The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chances of treating it successfully and straightforwardly.

Improving existing screening

Many European countries already have screening programmes for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer. The evidence indicates some ways in which these existing screening programmes can be improved:

New screening programmes

For other cancers, the evidence does not yet support population-wide screening. New technologies, including multi-cancer blood tests, are not yet ready for routine use — but research is moving fast and we should be prepared to introduce new methods, especially in high-risk populations. 

How to implement screening programmes

Clinical trials are valuable, but they cannot tell us exactly what will happen when a nationwide screening programme is implemented in the real world. So any new programme should be rolled out gradually, using local small-scale pilots. 

Once a programme is running, it needs to be continually monitored and adjusted to maintain quality. Standards, guidelines and screening criteria should be continually updated to take advantage of emerging evidence and new technologies, and the EU has a role in coordinating this. This would also allow countries to share experience and data, and to optimise the use of resources. 

The EU also has a role in supporting public awareness campaigns, and in creating large-scale biobanks to improve future research. 

Meanwhile, offering opportunistic screening tests outside of organised programmes — and to people with no symptoms — leads to poor quality and unequal access. This should be avoided. 

Recommendations from the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors

Workshop chairs

Professor
Erasmus MC University, Rotterdam
Personal profile

Professor
University of Cambridge
Personal profile

Policy impact

Events

Integrating research for new cancer screening programmes
In the context of the EU Mission on Cancer and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) recently produced key recommendations on cancer screening. This scientific opinion, supported by strong and independent scientific evidence, informs the revision of the Council recommendations on cancer screening. At the light of these renewed cancer screening guidelines, what will be the scientific developments to consider and new research to be started? This will be the focus of the debate.
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Conference on Improving Cancer Screening in the European Union
The SAPEA Improving Cancer Screening in the European Union report will be presented at a conference co-organized by SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences .
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Ciência 2022 (Science 2022)
The annual meeting of science, technology and innovation in Portugal, takes place this year on the 16th, 17th and 18th of May, at the Lisbon Congress Centre. On day 3, Rebecca Fitzgerald, University of Cambridge is invited to speak during the session Plenária 6: “Cancro: avanços e desafios”
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7th Congress of Preventive Medicine
The 7th Congress of the Section for Preventive Medicine of the Slovenian Medical Association is set in an unprecedented time when public health is at the center of attention of the entire society around the world. In the past, public health professionals have repeatedly wished to receive more attention from other scientific disciplines, societies, policies, and global development efforts. At the last congress five years ago, we almost prophetically ascertained the importance of integration for health and discussed the relationship between the public health profession and society.
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News

02 March 2022: SAPEA published a new report on “Improving cancer screening in the European Union”
In a new advice published today, the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism recommends improvements to existing screening programmes for cervical cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer — by adopting new technologies, expanding the age range of screening, and optimising how frequently people are screened depending on age, sex and previous test results. Furthermore, the experts found a strong scientific basis for introducing life-saving screening programmes in EU member states for both lung cancer and prostate cancer. The field of cancer screening is rapidly evolving, and in 2022 the European Commission will make a proposal to update the Council Recommendation on cancer screening to ensure it reflects the latest available scientific evidence. Leading cancer experts from across the world discussed the latest scientific progress in a series of three full-day scientific meetings held at the end of 2021, chaired jointly by Professors Rebecca Fitzgerald (University of Cambridge) and Harry...
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Academic impact

Media coverage

28 November 2022: Tudas.hu
A világ élelmezését forradalmasítaná Kondorosi Éva, de talált baktériumgyilkos molekulákat is, és hasznos tanácsokat ad az uniós döntéshozóknak
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28 November 2022: Europa Uomo
Fears that prostate cancer early detection proposals are being ‘diluted’
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23 November 2022: Onkologisk tidsskrift
Efter EU-anbefaling: Screening for prostatakræft diskuteres politisk
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28 October 2022: Politico Pro
Tumor tantrum: NGOs blast watered-down cancer screening recommendation
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28 October 2022: Engineers Journal Ireland
Combatting cancer: 'Screening more and screening better'
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09 October 2022: Europe Direct Vercelli
Innovazione medica e tecnlogica UE
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09 October 2022: Onkologisk Tidskrift
Professor: EU’s rekommendationer om prostatacancerscreening låter som lobbyverksamhet
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07 October 2022: European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)
A European Union that leads on cancer screening: the implications of new Council recommendation
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30 September 2022: Sundhedspolitisk Tidsskrift
EU-Kommissionen går imod danske specialister: "Ufatteligt forslag"
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29 September 2022: Horizon Magazine
Some cancer screening changes are relatively straightforward and should be cost effective
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21 September 2022: Europa Nu
Vragen en antwoorden: Een nieuwe EU-aanpak van kankerscreening
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20 September 2022: European Commission
Questions and answers: A new EU approach to cancer screening
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07 September 2022: Innoteka
Rákszűrési programok az Európai Unióban
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04 August 2022: Sciensano
Scientist advises European Commission on cancer screening
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04 August 2022: Sciensano
Wetenschapper van Sciensano adviseert Europese Commissie over kankerscreening
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28 June 2022: Newsbeezer
Early detection of cancer – new screening programs are coming
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28 June 2022: SiolNET
Zgodnje odkrivanje raka – prihajajo novi presejalni programi
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26 June 2022: Association Internationale de la Mutualité
AIM publishes Cancer Screening Recommendations
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22 June 2022: Aidence
Lung cancer screening and the role of AI: Where are we?
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07 June 2022: Egeszsegkalauz
Daganat: így lehetne csökkenteni a rák miatti halálozást
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30 May 2022: Delo
Slovenski moški brez svojega presejalnega programa in pogosto tudi urologa
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27 May 2022: Vital
Európa legyőzi a rákot program Új alapokra kell helyezni a rákszűrési programokat
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25 May 2022: Euractiv
Digestive cancers: Turning the tide through prevention
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25 May 2022: The parliament magazine
The time to unlock the power of cancer screening is now
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19 May 2022: EFPIA
Revising the EU Council Recommendation on cancer screening: an opportunity to step up the fight against lung cancer (Guest blog)
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05 May 2022: Salud y Medicina
España prepara la detección precoz de cáncer de pulmón para grandes fumadores
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01 May 2022: Lung Cancer Policy Network
Urgent, Coordinated Global Action on Lung Cancer (2022)
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13 April 2022: Lavanguardia
España prepara la detección precoz del cáncer de pulmón
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06 April 2022: Wikipedia
Lung cancer screening
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23 March 2022: VECER
Z načrtom do zmage v boju proti raku
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18 March 2022: Euro-case
IMPROVING CANCER SCREENING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
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16 March 2022: Health Hub
EFPIA: Poboljšanje probira i ranog otkrivanja kao pomoć u borbi protiv raka
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15 March 2022: Wikipedia
Cervical screening
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11 March 2022: THE ROYAL IRISH ACADEMY
Science supports new and improved cancer screening programmes, say EU advisors
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09 March 2022: EuropeanLung.org
ELF calls for introduction of lung cancer screening programmes
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09 March 2022: EFPIA
Improving cancer screening to help beating cancer
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04 March 2022: SCIENCE BUSINESS
HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes
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03 March 2022: Medical Express
Report recommends new screenings for lung and prostate cancers and improvements for existing programs
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03 March 2022: Euractiv
EU expert group recommends Commission to step up cancer screening
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03 March 2022: European Commission
Better cancer screening proves a game-changer
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03 March 2022: Mixpoint
Report recommends new screenings for lung and prostate cancers and improvements for existing programs
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03 March 2022: European Association of Urology
Scientific experts support addition of “life-saving” prostate cancer early detection programmes
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03 March 2022: Modern Diplomacy
Better cancer screening proves a game-changer
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03 March 2022: Europa Uomo
Europe’s scientists back prostate screening
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02 March 2022: FEAM - Federation of European Academies of Medecine
Cancer Screening
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