New Cancer Mission Report on Cancer prevention, early detection, and screening: EU citizen perceptions and experiences

Published on: 07/06/2024

The European Commission has released a new report as part of the EU Cancer Mission, aiming to significantly improve the lives of over three million people by 2030 through enhanced prevention, cure, and support for those affected by cancer.

Aligned with this goal, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan emphasizes addressing inequalities in cancer awareness, prevention, diagnosis, and care. Both initiatives prioritize cancer prevention as it minimizes avoidable harm to citizens’ well-being and is the most cost-effective long-term strategy. Early detection of cancers is also critical in reducing mortality and morbidity, leading to better patient outcomes.

To support these initiatives, focus groups were conducted with citizens from six EU Member States: Bulgaria, Czechia, Finland, France, Lithuania, and Malta. These discussions gathered insights on cancer awareness, prevention, early detection, and screening. The study highlighted the need for improved information and communication on these topics across the EU. Participants identified significant barriers to effective cancer prevention and early detection, stressing the need for actions that consider varying levels of motivation and beliefs.

The study emphasized the importance of citizen engagement in all phases of the Mission’s development and implementation. This engagement ensures that the knowledge, needs, preferences, and potential of EU citizens are considered when developing interventions to combat cancer. Effective communication and information dissemination are crucial, as misconceptions about cancer and screening can evoke anxiety and deter proactive measures. The perception that cancer is an indiscriminate threat further hinders action.

To overcome these challenges, it is essential to enhance the availability, accessibility, and comprehensibility of information related to cancer prevention and early detection. In certain regions, geographical distance poses a significant barrier to participation in cancer screening programs. Innovative solutions, such as mobile screening facilities, could play a vital role in improving access.

While the insights from the focus groups represent a limited number of EU citizens, they underline the critical need for better communication and actions to support cancer prevention and early detection. Addressing these barriers with tailored initiatives can significantly contribute to the EU Cancer Mission’s goal of reducing the cancer burden and improving the quality of life for millions across Europe.

For more detailed insights, you can read the full report here.