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The Challenge Cancer Intergroup calls on the EU Council to propose the necessary evidence-based steps to optimise lung cancer screening in Europe

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Health & Consumers

11 November 2022

Yesterday, 10 November, MEP Cristian Busoi (EPP, Romania) chaired the internal meeting of the Challenge Cancer Intergroup - “Towards strengthening lung cancer screening in Europe” - held in the European Parliament, organised in collaboration with the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC).  Several distinguished MEPs from different political groups have joined the meeting and expressed their views on the future of lung cancer screening in Europe.

The debate was an in-depth, close-door discussion, on the Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening that proposes a new approach to support Member States increase the uptake of cancer screening, published by the European Commission on September 20. The draft text was discussed in the EU Council, at the meeting of the Working Party on Public Health held on 24 October.

In this context, the invited experts, Dr. Ugo Pastorino, Scientific Director of Thoracic Surgery of the IRCCS-National Cancer Institute Foundation in Milan and Prof. Giorgio Vittorio Scagliotti, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Turin, provided their experience and professionalism to shed light on the medical aspects of the Council Recommendation and, its impact on early detection, cancer care and the burden of cancer.

This meeting was a timely opportunity to explore some of the critical issues that have emerged from the revision of the Council's draft Recommendation in relation to lung cancer screening. The revised text defines evidence of low-dose tomography for lung cancer screening as preliminary whereas there is established evidence. Moreover, it does not provide sufficient clarity on the need to implement lung cancer screening in a phased manner including, among other factors, eligibility criteria, thus limiting its scope.

Furthermore, by neglecting the already existing scientific evidence on the benefits of early screening and leaving it up solely to the Member States to assess the necessity of cancer screening at national level, based on their resources and capacity, drives to the non-implementation of the EU Cancer Plan recommendations for cancer screening and will further deepen inequalities in access to cancer care in Europe.

A declaration letter with concrete recommendations, that came out of this meeting, was sent today to the EU Council and Commission by MEP Cristian Busoi, as Chair of the Challenge Cancer Intergroup, in view of the final proposal to be adopted at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council meeting on 9 December 2022.

The MEPs proposed concrete measures that will ensure a reduction of the burden of lung cancer:

  • Include a standalone section on lung cancer screening with explicit recognition of the well-established evidence base;
  • Clarify the proposed “stepwise” approach for implementation of lung cancer screening, ensuring that evidence and lessons learned from lung cancer screening implementation activities across Europe are leveraged for new programmes;
  • Include a more ambitious review period for lung cancer screening than the 3 years within adoption and every 4 years subsequently, as the existing evidence for lung cancer screening and the implementation evidence from pilots and programmes should support faster implementation.

The enclosed declaration has been endorsed by 48 MEPs.

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