European Cancer Prevention Initiative Launched at ESMO Congress

Roxanne Nelson, RN, BSN

September 10, 2022

PARIS — The launch of the Europe-wide Cancer Prevention Across Europe campaign (PrEvCan) was announced at the opening session of the 2022 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

The campaign was initiated and led by the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), but ESMO will be a key partner in the campaign, along with the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and about 50 other international and national organizations. Slated to run for a 1-year period beginning next month, the focus will be on the promotion of the 12 evidence based recommendations to reduce individual cancer risk included in the European Code Against Cancer (ECAC), which were developed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The EONS initiative ties into the recently launched Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, which states that about 40% of all cancer cases within the EU are preventable.

Prevention has been proven to be more effective than cure and is the most cost-efficient long-term cancer control strategy, EONS comments. Although there is no one single universal strategy for cancer prevention, approaches that raise awareness and address risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, obesity, unhealthy diet, extensive sun/sun bed exposure, and exposure to pollution can dramatically reduce an individual's risk of developing the disease.

The Global Cancer Observatory estimates that the number of new cancer cases in Europe is expected to continue rising, reaching an estimated 5.9 million by 2040, and related mortality is also expected to reach 2.9 million patients. "By reducing the number of cancer cases up front as well as by increasing the rate of early diagnoses, where appropriate, we can substantially improve healthy individuals and patient outcomes,” said Rosa Giuliani, MD, director of public policy at ESMO.

"At the same time, we can alleviate the strains on our health ecosystem in areas such as sourcing and providing access to medicines," she commented in the ESMO Daily Reporter.

ESMO had previously collaborated with the IARC on the World Cancer Report Updates Learning Platform to ensure that oncologists become knowledgeable in prevention and act as role models for their patients. The society is now taking another step into the field of prevention, with its partnership with EONS.

"Our community has traditionally considered prevention to be mainly a topic for family doctors and organ specialists," said ESMO President Solange Peters, MD, in the ESMO Daily Reporter. "As disease specialists, we must be able to provide competent answers based on a firm grasp of the latest numbers, survivor data, and research findings. Contrary to what many patients still believe, it is never too late to adopt a preventive lifestyle. This vital insight is something we neglected in the past and need to act on going forward."

Screening Ramped Up

In a related measure, the European Commission is about to issue new guidance on cancer screening, which will be released September 21.

As regular doctor checkups dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that up to 1 million patients with cancer in Europe are estimated to have gone undiagnosed as about 100 million screening tests were not performed during the first phase of the pandemic. The goal now is to ramp up screening and curtail the risk of excess cancer-related mortality.

The current screening guidelines are nearly 20 years old, and in need of an update as the EU currently only recommends regular monitoring for breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer. The new guidance would recommend expansion to include regular screening for lung, prostate and, in some cases, gastric cancer.

Roxanne Nelson is a registered nurse and an award-winning medical writer who has written for many major news outlets and is a regular contributor to Medscape.

2022 Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Presented September 10, 2022.

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