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
Declaration of interests

Events

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

05 May 2022: Salud y Medicina
España prepara la detección precoz de cáncer de pulmón para grandes fumadores
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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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