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Stronger support crucial to successful cancer prevention

Strong support and collaboration are essential for preventing cancer says new EU Joint Action report on cancer prevention and health promotion.

Four out of ten cancers are preventable. Building strong support for cancer prevention is crucial in the European Union. This means capacity building for prevention at every level of cancer control.

The European Commission has issued two ambitious plans to save three million lives from cancer by 2030. They are, the Europe´s Beating Cancer Plan and the Cancer Mission.

The EU co-funded iPAAC (Innovative Partnership for Action Against Cancer) Joint Action report on prevention concludes that actions are required without delays.

The report urges strong support structures for health policy. These include more effective collaboration, interventions, guidelines, and supportive policy approaches.

No simple solutions to complex problems

“Cancer is a general name for hundreds complex diseases. Health policy measures are also complex. To find sustainable ideas, hundreds of experts were involved in the meetings of cancer prevention.  Even when we know a lot, the progress for cancer prevention has been too slow”, says Satu Lipponen, WP leader of the iPAAC Work Package prevention from the Cancer Society of Finland.

“Cancer risk factors are often shared with other noncommunicable diseases. By preventing cancer, we prevent also other diseases. Good examples of prevention are healthy diets, tobacco control and alcohol policy. Approaches like Health in all Policies call for robust work across different policy sectors, says research professor Pekka Jousilahti from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

“Strengthen EU-wide teamwork”

Director, Dr Elisabete Weiderpass from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that estimates of the future cancer burden are alarming, unless preventive measures take hold.

Considering that Europe has a quarter of all cancer cases and less than 10% of the world population, Europe urgently needs a strong commitment to cancer prevention, to better understand cancer risk factors and evidence-base that can deliver effective strategies for cancer control.

By strengthening EU-wide teamwork and opportunities for added value, more people would live without cancer, more cancer patients would be diagnosed earlier, and cancer patients would suffer less and have a better quality of life after treatment.”

Towards the new edition of the Cancer Code

The iPAAC prevention report stresses the importance of the European Code Against Cancer. This contains twelve strategies that people can follow to reduce cancer risk.

“The best actions are always rooted in science, says Dr Joachim Schüz, Head, Environment and Lifestyle Epidemiology Branch from International Agency for Research on Cancer.

“Health education and behaviour change-promoting tools, such as the European Code Against Cancer, would need a wide reach and proper dissemination to have an impact on public health, overcoming lack of health literacy at individual but also at structural level.”

Integrated approach for cancer prevention

John F. Ryan, Director of Public Health, DG SANTE, European Commission says that more actions are needed. He is pleased that a multi- stakeholder community is discussing cancer prevention topics:

“Cancer prevention is an integral part of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Regardless of scientific revolutions or advance in modern technologies, prevention will always be better than cure. We need more actions on health promotion and disease prevention as the current approach is simply not sustainable. I am therefore pleased to see that there is wide support for this.”

“For the first time, Member States, Commission departments and the wider stakeholder community are discussing cancer prevention in an integrated, health-in-all-policies and multi-stakeholder approach.”


Cancer prevention in the 2020s. WP5 Conference report, iPAAC task 5.3 on cancer prevention and health promotion.

Recommendations on the sustainability and monitoring of the European Code Against Cancer