It’s estimated that 23.4% of global cancer cases occur in Europe, even though it only makes up 9% of the world population. Additionally, 20.3% of cancer-related deaths were in Europe, and, according to the IARC, there will 387,000 of these deaths this year. With this in mind, the EU has put a great deal of focus on preventing new cases, including lung cancer, which, a lot of the time, can be prevented.
According to a new study, the measures that the EU can use to prevent lung cancer cases most effectively are electronic cigarettes, as well as better access to cancer treatments. The study was carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit. They looked at the current policies in 13 EU member states, including the Netherlands, which came top of the list for new cases of lung cancer. Sweden had the lowest number of cases.
The researchers also found that, in particular, being able to quickly access innovative treatments could improve the chances of recovery. Furthermore, effective prevention policies, like encouraging vaping or NRT, were key to reducing the number of new cases. The results of this study were presented in Brussels this week, at the European Cancer Forum.
There were major differences in the outcomes for patients across different European countries. For example, Poland had the highest number of deaths, followed by the Netherlands and Belgium. The only countries that had a separate lung cancer policy as part of their cancer plans were Sweden and Poland. Patients in some countries were offered different testing, treatments, and medicines to others.
The authors noted: “Of the four most commonly used biomarkers for lung cancer, testing for all four is only reimbursed in a minority of countries. Only half of the countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and UK) have started or are involved in a trial to investigate whether or how screening could be used.”
Going forward, campaigners are calling for more innovation in cancer treatments, to make sure that all patients have access to the best treatments and preventative measures that are sustainable financially. Some of the plans set out include improving social and health inequality, more access to clinical trials and research, and implementing new guidelines on the use of e-cigarettes.