World Cancer Day 2021 and the EU's Beating Cancer Plan | Youth Cancer Europe (YCE)

World Cancer Day 2021 and the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan

Today marks the all-important #WorldCancerDay on our calendars.

Yesterday, we welcomed the launch of the European Union’s Beating Cancer Plan: an ambitious project that puts cancer care and prevention at the forefront of European health.

The #EUCancerPlan is a massive step forward that demonstrates the potential of the EU’s leverage in the health space, which was, for far too long, only considered as a National Member State issue.

Screening Programmes and Vaccination Schemes will get attention and funding, Comprehensive Cancer Centres will be established (hopefully not to the detriment of progress in Cross Border Healthcare access) and the Inequalities Registry promises to deliver more than just a replacement to the currently available and yearly published indexes.

Childhood cancer has received a much needed and very important spotlight and we are pleased that long-term follow up and screening for late effects is also considered by the proposal of a Smart Card.

We’re especially excited about the emphasis on Personalised Healthcare and more specifically, the actions proposed for new digital platforms using Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing to rapidly test existing molecules and new drug combinations to leverage innovative and promising treatments, as well as the Genomic for Public Health project expected to give secure access to large amounts of genomic data for research, prevention and personalised medicine purposes.

And while the EU Cancer Plan that was put together in one year and has managed to commit €4 billion in funding gives us good reason to hope and squarely puts the fight against cancer in the fast lane, there are some key issues affecting youth with cancer in Europe that are yet to be adequately addressed.

By far the least detailed section of the European strategy is the Survivorship and Quality of Life pillar. Mental health as an area is only mentioned in the current plan through a proposed solution to train a better-prepared workforce, and Fertility preservation, which is one of the five key issues included in our White Paper, isn’t part of the plan at all. Addressing the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, the Commission only puts in view the creation of a code of conduct to make sure that only necessary and proportionate information is used when accessing financial products.

We have listened to many of you who have been in touch with us over the last 24 hours regarding your observations and concerns, and promise, that building on this hugely important first step by the EU, we will now focus on implementation and continue our collaboration with stakeholders as well as with the Commission and the European Parliaments’ BECA committee to bring into focus these high priority areas that we fully believe are an integral part of young people’s cancer experience, cancer survivorship and quality of life.

We will make sure that young people do not feel like they are falling through the cracks while the EU mainly focuses on children and societal health behaviours, population based prevention, diagnosis, treatment and adult cancer experiences in general. 

The Commission’s promise, that “today’s publication is the start of the process, not the end” gives us reason for optimism as we proudly celebrate World Cancer Day today and look forward to contributing to how the future of cancer care is shaped across Europe and beyond its borders. And on this note in this hugely significant day, we send you all our love from Youth Cancer Europe 💙💛💙

You can check out the full plan here.

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