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Cancer patients [What Europe does for you]

Young woman in bed suffering from cancer. Thoughtful woman battling with tumor looking out of window. Young patient with blue headscarf recovery in hospital on bed.

© Rido / Fotolia

Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by uncontrolled growth and the spread of abnormal cells. There are many possible causes for cancer. Over 30 % of cancer deaths are preventable, mainly through avoiding risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Today, with early detection – including screening programmes – and adequate treatment, many cancers are curable. In the European Union, cancer accounted for 26 % of all deaths in 2014. For both men and women, lung cancer remains the main type of fatal cancer, followed by colorectal (bowel) cancer.

The EU’s action on cancer takes on various forms. A tool for prevention, the European Code Against Cancer provides a set of 12 recommendations that can help people reduce their cancer risk, including stopping smoking and switching to a healthy diet. To assist EU countries with cancer screening, the European Commission initiative on breast cancer seeks to improve breast cancer care based on specific guidelines, and work has begun on screening tests for colorectal cancer. The EU also funds cancer research. Among the many projects are: BRIDGES and B-CAST, which help improve the genetic testing approaches used to determine if a woman has a high breast cancer risk; ULTRAPLACAD for developing a device that can detect early signs of cancer through a blood analysis; MoTriColor to find novel therapies for advanced-stage bowel cancer; and TRANSCAN‑2, a network of 28 partners from 19 countries involved in ‘translational’ cancer research – that is, how to apply the findings from basic research to clinical practice, for the benefit of patients.

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The European Commission has launched a ‘Health promotion and disease prevention knowledge gateway’. This one-stop shop provides information on topics related to the prevention of diseases, including cancer (such as recommendations for the consumption of fibre, protein, fruit and vegetables, and whole grain.).

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