Europe’s population should double cancer screening as it ages. The European Union’s health commissioner says planning for a healthy future through detection and prevention will pay long-term dividends.
In 2003, EU ministers recommended about 125 million examinations per year to all EU citizens of appropriate age. Yet in 2007, a report from Brussels said, around 55 million people attended screening programmes for breast, cervical or colorectal cancer. A Commission spokeswoman presented the EU executive’s latest recommendation: “The aim of this exercise is not naming and shaming specific countries, and this is not our intention either. This is about raising awareness and highlighting a problem that can be best tackled by working more closely with the member states, by having effective population-based screening programmes, by sharing information across the EU.” Every year, 3.2 million Europeans are diagnosed with cancer, but its incidence is far from uniform. Brussels said: “With an ageing population, the figures are due to increase, unless measures are taken to reduce cancer deaths.” With breast cancer, for example, Belgium is reported to have the highest rate, Romania the lowest. Denmark has the highest mortality rate and Spain the lowest.