European policy recommendations on breast cancer

Breast cancer takes the lives of tens of thousands of European women each year and exposes significant regional inequities in the European health system. The personal, social and working relationships of women suffering from the disease, at all stages, are deeply damaged. October is World Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to mark the milestone we would like to highlight some of the policy recommendations made by Transforming Breast Cancer Together (TBCT) initiative, aimed at improving health services and care in this area across Europe.

TBCT brings together MEPs from different political groupings, patient groups, research bodies and pharmaceutical companies, including Lilly. The recommendations reflect the breadth of this coalition, and the promises and priorities already identified by the European institutions in recent years in various initiatives and manifestos, including the Commission, Parliament and others.

Breast cancer is still an area of high unmet need and large societal impact. It is essential that smart European policies are put in place to tackle this critical health issue at the EU level. Here are some of the key recommendations:

On screening, diagnostics and treatment:

  • Revise the 2003 Council recommendations on cancer screening.
  • Ensure implementation of nationwide breast cancer screening programs conducted in accordance with the New European Guidelines being developed by the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer.
  • Ensure that every patient diagnosed with breast cancer has access to the highest standard of treatment (physical and on-going psychosocial) in a specialist breast unit with dedicated breast specialists working in a multidisciplinary approach.

 

On the rights of sufferers and survivors to return to work:

  • Ensure the development and implementation of programmes that support breast cancer survivors to flexibly return to work, look after their families and contribute to society before, during and after treatment.
  • Use tools such as the European Social Pillar to strengthen and reinforce the principles and guidelines for equal opportunities and workplace inclusion of breast cancer survivors.

 

On the collection of data and use of new technologies:

  • Put breast cancer research at the top of the EU research agenda and increase the investment in breast cancer research through a dedicated research ‘mission’ in the upcoming Horizon Europe framework programme.
  • Develop a harmonized breast cancer registry process in Europe to collect breast cancer data, both for early breast cancer and metastatic breast cancer.

 

View the full recommendations in TBCT’s article, published in The Breast Academic Journal.

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