European Respiratory Society welcomes the approval of the updated EU Council cancer screening recommendation

European Respiratory Society welcomes the approval of the updated EU Council cancer screening recommendation - article image

The European Respiratory Society (ERS) warmly welcomes the final updated 2022/0290 (NLE) Council Recommendation on strengthening prevention through early detection: A new EU approach on cancer screening replacing Council Recommendation 2003/878 EC. Following today’s vote in the Council of the European Union, we applaud the Member States and congratulate them on the adoption of this crucial life-saving Recommendation.

This important and long-awaited step for the respiratory and cancer community of including lung cancer screening in the EU Recommendation has a great potential of providing access to screening with the use of low-dose computed tomography for high-risk individuals and, hence, ensuring early diagnosis and better clinical outcomes for millions of affected people across the EU. While lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in the EU, it is critical to tackle this disease and its health, societal and economic burden without further delay.

The Recommendation encourages the Member States to follow the Scientific Advice Mechanism expert report and advance with the further steps needed for the integration of lung cancer screening into their national healthcare. While it might seem challenging to some countries, the EU foresees various mechanisms and support for the implementation of the Recommendation starting from funding and capacity building via the Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund Plus, as well as the EU4Health Programme and Horizon Europe along with establishing strategic collaborations and outlining the required legal framework. The EU has taken up an ambitious challenge of Beating Cancer across the EU, and we must ensure equal access to cancer screening programmes as an integral part of it.

To that end, along with the EU Recommendation ERS calls on all 27 EU countries to urgently move towards the implementation phase of the screening programmes. We have positive examples both from outside the EU (Australia, the UK) and already the first pioneers within the EU (Croatia, Poland) that are launching lung cancer screening programmes and demonstrating how it increases survivorship and reduces the financial burden on their health systems. Many other European countries are running successful trials and there are more implementation pilots, especially for vulnerable populations, foreseen under the upcoming EU4Health SOLACE project that will provide insights for practical guidelines on lung cancer screening for governments and health professionals.

To facilitate the crucial process of the Recommendation uptake by the Member States, ERS commits to provide expert and dissemination support at the EU and national level via its research capacity in the relevant EU projects, facilitating guidelines and protocols development, collaborating with the EU Joint Action on implementation of cancer screening programmes and other EU cancer actions, with the support of our membership of more than 35 000 respiratory physicians from over 160 countries.

The statement is issued by the ERS Advocacy Council Chair, Prof. Arzu Yorgancioğlu, on behalf of the
European Respiratory Society