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Androulla Vassiliou Calls for Openness in Speaking About Cancer

EU Commissioner for Health Androulla Vassiliou has called for the 'courage to speak openly about cancer' at the launch of the European Partnership for Action against Cancer.

On 29 September 2009, in Brussels, over 300 cancer organisations, patients and cancer survivors, health professionals, researchers, health authorities and health ministers gathered to hear opening speeches by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium.

Three million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the EU. It is the second biggest cause of death in both men and women. The Partnership aims to draw together relevant organisations to share expertise, to identify challenges in order to reduce the number of new cancer cases in the EU by 15% by 2020.

"This partnership is about courage and commitment: the courage to speak openly about cancer and the commitment to work together, to trust each other and to share expertise", said Androulla Vassiliou.
A panel discussion with cancer experts, the Swedish Health Minister, the Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Jo Leinen, president of the European parliament's Environment, Public Health and Food Safety focused on the four pillars of the partnership: cancer information, early detection and health promotion, cancer research and learning from best practice.

Background on EU action on Cancer

Since 1985, cancer has been a priority issue for EU public health policy. This priority has been reflected in three successive Europe against Cancer action programmes (1987 to 1989, 1990 to 1994, and 1996 to 2002)

In December 2003, the Council adopted a Recommendation on cancer screening, which sets out fundamental principles of best practice in the early detection of cancer, and invites all Member States to take common action to implement national population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer, with appropriate quality assurance at all levels. The Commission has published European guidelines for quality assurance in breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnosis, as benchmarks in this process. On 22nd December 2008, the Commission adopted its Report on the Implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening. ( IP/09/113 )


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