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Arming for the European battle against lung cancer Addressing the risk factors of cancer is the European Commission’s first line of attack in the battle against cancer. In this article, Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, focuses on the two major tools which add value to the prevention and treatment of lung cancer


e often speak about cancer in violent metaphors – ‘fighting’, ‘waging war’, ‘winning the battle’, etc. Is this appropriate? Significant increases in survival rates of breast cancer, for example, thanks to advances in detection and treatment, may make this sort of language outdated as we turn our focus more towards survivorship and rehabilitation. For lung cancer, on the other hand - which is responsible for the most cancer-related deaths in the EU, this type of language may

be more fitting in the sense that we need powerful tools to fight a formidable battle. In this article, I would like to focus on two EU-level tools which can add value in the prevention of lung cancer and in its treatment: EU tobacco control policy and European Reference Networks respectively. First some statistics: in 2013 alone 270 000 people in the EU died from lung cancer, representing 21% of deaths due to cancer and making it the greatest source of cancerrelated death in Europe.(1) There is a high variation between EU countries - the highest proportion of lung cancer among all cancer deaths was recorded in Hungary (26%),


followed by Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Poland (all 24%), and the lowest in Portugal (15%) and Sweden (16%). There is also a gender gap. Lung cancer accounted for 26% of all male fatal cancer (185 600 deaths), compared with 15% for female (83 500 deaths). This can partly be explained by the greater prevalence of risk factors among men, notably smoking rates. Addressing the risk factors of cancer is the Commission’s first line of attack, and as smoking is the greatest risk factor for lung cancer, I am particularly proud of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (2), which has recently become applicable to member states

Government Gazette November 2016  
Government Gazette November 2016