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On World Cancer Day, EASL warmly welcomes Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan

4 February 2021
The month of February brings together several key actions to tackle cancer globally, and EASL is focussing particularly on the global threat of liver cancer. EASL draws on all these initiatives, in alignment with its goals embedded in our policy and public health strategies.

Today, 4 February, marks World Cancer Day. It follows the landmark adoption yesterday of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan by the European Commission. EASL is rolling out several other key actions this month to address the increasing global public health threat of liver cancer, which has risen to become the third-most deadly and sixth-most prevalent cancer in the world.

We are working towards a world without cancer and striving to address the challenges faced by the entire liver community. EASL just released a  press release, “Liver community fights liver cancer with a robust action plan”; have published a user-friendly infographic, Liver Cancer Explained; held a Patient Synergies Roundtable on the needs of liver cancer patients; and our two-day Digital Liver Cancer Summit 2021 launches tomorrow, 5 February.

About the newly launched Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan

Drawing on new technologies, research, and innovation, the Cancer Plan sets out a new EU approach to cancer prevention, treatment, and care. It will tackle the entire disease pathway, from prevention to quality of life of cancer patients and survivors, focusing on those actions where the EU can add the most value. These benefits will mitigate not only cancer, but other diseases, too. The Plan aims to improve the health of all people across the EU. Key pillars – prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life – align with EASL’s goals, as explained below.

Promoting cancer prevention

It is widely recognised that over 40% of cancers could be prevented by tackling major risk factors, such as these which are also major causes of chronic liver disease: smoking, harmful alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, and a lack of physical activity. Accordingly, EASL fully supports the importance of shining a light on risk factors and highlights, additionally, the importance of preventing hepatitis transmission (hepatitis B and C), both major risk factors for liver cancer. No preventable cancer by vaccination should be left behind.

In particular, EASL welcomes the launch of the “HealthyLifestyle4All” initiative, aiming to promote healthy diet and physical activity.

Highlighting the role of alcohol consumption

Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan emphasises alcohol-related harm as a major public health concern in the EU and that cancer is, to date, the leading cause of alcohol-attributable deaths. The Plan strives to reduce, by at least 10%, in the harmful use of alcohol by 2025. To this end, the European Commission will review EU legislation relating to taxing alcohol and cross-border purchase of alcohol by private individuals. The inclusion of health warnings on the labels of alcoholic beverages will be proposed before end-2023.

In terms of cancer risk, one bottle of wine (containing 10 cl alcohol) is equivalent to smoking five cigarettes for men, and ten cigarettes for women. We need to make this go viral, so that millions more people may know this. Women and men have the right to know – how many cigarettes there are in each bottle of wine,  and the risk of cancer to them from both alcohol and smoking. We must all know the associated risk of cancer from drinking alcohol, not only from smoking,

said Prof. Nick Sheron, EASL Policy and Public Health Committee Member.

Support will be provided to Member States in the implementation of evidence-based brief interventions on alcohol in primary health care, the workplace, and social services. EASL supports Member States and stakeholders regarding the implementation of best-practice interventions, and capacity-building and awareness-raising activities.

Advocating for front-of-pack food labelling

EASL supports the commitment made in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan to work further on front-of-pack food labelling. The food industry’s resistance to this urgent need must be challenged.  EASL calls for a European response to achieving healthier habits and lifestyles, and we are convinced that all stakeholders should continue seeking a common position on this weighty topic.

 Boosting diagnosis and treatment

The Plan commits to harmonising and implementing high-quality, evidence-based screening programmes across EU Member States. This is a noteworthy milestone and will help reduce the inequality of the burden of cancer across different European countries. Additionally, new European Reference Networks addressing cancer co-morbidities will play a crucial role. EASL encourages the Commission to ensure that new networks address diseases with a broad approach, beyond cancer-related ones, including infectious diseases.

Improving quality of life

The “Better Life for Cancer Patients Initiative” will focus on follow-up care. EASL is encouraged to note that the plan includes direct measures to support patients, helping them maintain jobs and their overall reintegration, including social aspects.

More EASL actions underway

To mark World Cancer Day, EASL just released a user-friendly infographic, Liver Cancer Explained.

Read our press release: “Liver community fights liver cancer with a robust action plan”

Our Patient Synergies Roundtable served as a discussion aiming to identify the needs of liver cancer patients and their families, and the best ways to accompany them.

Our two-day Digital Liver Cancer Summit 2021  launches tomorrow, 5 February. It puts delegates at the forefront of research, development, and strategies for treating patients.

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