Fighting cancer in the EU: Statistics and action

Fighting cancer in the EU: Statistics and action
Опубликовано: Tuesday, 08 February 2022 04:15

Cancer is not necessarily a death sentence. In the EU 40% of cancer cases are preventable and there are an estimated 12 million cancer survivors. Research and innovation on cancer has always been one of the EU’s health priorities.

Read more about what the EU does to improve public health.

Most common cancers in the EU. The main ones are breast, colon and prostate cancer.

EU cancer statistics

Nearly three million people were newly diagnosed with cancer and 1.27 million people died from cancer in the EU in 2020. This makes cancer the second leading cause of mortality after cardiovascular diseases.

However, innovative treatment and better access to care means many Europeans now survive longer after being diagnosed with cancer. Cancer in the EU

  • Europe represents less than 10% of the world’s population, but accounts for 25% of all cancer cases
  • Differences in cancer survival rates across EU countries exceed 25%
  • Almost 75% of all cancer diagnoses in the EU are in people aged 60 or above
Types of cancer that kill the most people in the EU. In 2020, lung cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer were the types of cancer that killed the most people in the EU.

COVID pandemic impact on cancer treatment

COVID-19 has had an impact on cancer cases. An estimated 100 million screening tests were not performed in Europe during the pandemic and an estimated one million cancer cases were undiagnosed. One in five cancer patients did not receive the surgical or chemotherapy treatment they needed on time

There is also potentially good news. The mRNA technology behind some of the COVID-19 vaccines might prove efficient in future drugs against cancer, preliminary studies suggest.

EU measures to fight cancer


The EU is investing in various activities such as research projects, clinical trials and training programmes.

The EU also complements member states’ efforts by:

  • Making it easier to cooperate and share information;
  • adopting legislation to address risk factors (such as tobacco, carcinogens or pesticides), and;
  • running awareness rising-campaigns.

In 2020, Parliament set up a special committee on beating cancer to review EU action against cancer and suggest improvements. MEPS will vote on the committee’s final report and recommendations during February’s plenary session.

Find out more

  • Parliament calls for action: strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer
  • Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan: a new EU approach to prevention, treatment and care
  • Beating cancer: MEPs react to the EU plan for joint action
  • Study: strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer (July 2020)
  • EU health policy
  • Improving public health: EU measures explained
  • European Health Union: better disease prevention and cross-border cooperation
  • Covid-19: what Parliament is doing to mitigate the crisis
  • Health threats: boosting EU readiness and crisis management
  • New future-proof EU pharmaceutical policy
  • Health Union: a stronger role for the European Medicines Agency
  • Fighting cancer in the EU: statistics and action (infographics)
  • Cancer: protecting people from carcinogens in the workplace
  • Superbugs: MEPs’ ideas to fight antimicrobial resistance
  • Veterinary medicines: fighting antibiotic resistance
  • Vaccines: MEPs concerned about drop in EU vaccination rates
  • Medical cannabis: MEPs call for research and EU-wide rules
  • Medicine shortages in the EU: causes and solutions
  • Drinking water in the EU: better quality and access
  • Splish, splash! Swimming safely in European waters this summer
  • A new ambitious EU Disability Strategy for 2021-2030
  • Accessibility: making products and services in the EU easier to use
  • Getting back to work after a long sickness or injury (video)
  • European Health Insurance Card: keeping you safe abroad
  • Creating a sustainable food system: the EU’s strategy
  • From farm to fork: strengthening food checks in Europe
  • Pesticides in food: what is the European Parliament doing to help?
  • The EU’s organic food market: facts and rules (infographic)

Share this article: