On 22 October 2021, EASL held this event under the patronage of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the European Union and jointly organised it with the European Liver Patients’ Association (ELPA), a member of our Patient Synergies network of umbrella patient organisations. Registered participants numbered 250.
The goals of holding this exchange included: outlining and emphasising the most urgently needed actions to tackle the multifaceted issue of liver cancer and raising awareness about the feasible opportunities to significantly reduce this health burden by better addressing risk factors. The most crucial risk factors being viral hepatitis B and C, alcohol us and, or fatty liver disease.
High-level policymakers showcased their views on how policy can be leveraged to mitigate liver cancer. Distinguished speakers include Igor Zorčič, President of the Slovenian Parliament, who stated that Slovenia’s work around targeted screening for liver cancer sets a good example for the EU. Janez Poklukar, Slovenian Minister of Health, underlined the importance scientific evidence proving that goals for cancer screening in Europe should be raised. John F. Ryan, Director of Public Health Country Knowledge and Crisis Management, DG SANTE, provided further key insights on the European Commission’s actions to tackle cancer in Europe.
Key conclusions: rolling out screening and implementing programmes
In our summary report, EASL drew these two key conclusions:
- Speakers emphasised that the updated Council Recommendation must include liver cancer screening, in line with the World Health Organization’s broader recommendations for cancer screening programmes in Europe. Liver cancer is not only a grave public health concern, but well suited to screening, as a preventative measure. Both suitable, affordable screening tests and effective treatment are already available, so public health outcomes will certainly improve when diagnosis happens early. Suitable programmes to carry this out are urgently needed.
- Programmes to monitor patients can increase early detection of liver cancer and targeted surveillance programmes of at-risk patients must be implemented systematically. Education programmes of both patients and their healthcare providers will be key to successful implementation.