EU Research and Innovation in the fight against cancer

Cancer affects everyone regardless of age, gender or social status and represents a tremendous burden for patients, families, and societies at large. There are more than 200 types of common and
rare cancers. If no further action is taken, the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer every year in Europe will increase from the current 3.4 million to more than 4.0 million by 2035.

Horizon Europe & Cancer Mission
In the new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon Europe (2021-2027), a Mission on Cancer will help set common goals and implement actions aiming to reverse the frightening trends of this disease. A set of ambitious goals were set out in the report of the Cancer Mission Board, including: “By 2030, more than 3 million lives saved, living longer and better” and “reducing by one third premature mortality through prevention and treatment and promotion of mental health and well-being.”

While the Mission on Cancer will point to the right direction of research and innovation, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan will support Member States’ efforts to reduce the suffering caused by cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families. It will do this through concrete actions in the areas of prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, and quality of life of cancer patients and survivors.

This factsheet highlights a selection of EU-funded projects that already contribute to these specific areas. In addition, it presents a number of already established and soon to be launched concrete new initiatives, complementing EU efforts in the fight against cancer and spelt out in the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.

> The HealthyLifeStyle4All campaign will be launched to promote sport, physical activity and healthy diets.
> Understand Cancer (UNCAN) – a European platform using relevant research infrastructures will be launched to understand cancer, including paediatric cancers. This will also help identify individuals at high risk from common cancers and facilitate personalized care.
> The European Cancer Information System, which monitors the burden of cancer in Europe, will be expanded to include paediatric cancers, cancer staging and geo-positioned linkages to cancer determinants such as environmental and socioeconomic indicators. The European Guidelines and Quality Assurance Scheme for Cancer Screening, Diagnosis and Care, currently covering breast cancer, will also be expanded to cover colorectal and cervical cancers. These, as well as work on best practices for reducing exposure to cancer risk factors, are part of the new Knowledge Centre on Cancer, to be launched this year. This Knowledge Centre will promote and foster integration of EC cancer-related activities at the scientific & technical level, while using and building upon its existing competences as well as EC systems, portals, gateways and platforms.

> A European Cancer Patient Digital Centre will be launched to support a standardized approach to the voluntary exchange of patients’ data and monitoring of survivors’ health by 2023.
> The EU Network of Comprehensive Cancer Centres will be created to support Member States in establishing at least one National Comprehensive Cancer Centre by 2025, ensuring that 90% of eligible patients have access to such Centres by 2030.

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