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Overall strategy needed for successful cancer management

foto: Salomon 2000

The ministers of health who met today at an informal meeting in Brdo pri Kranju have just concluded a debate on reducing the burden of cancer, the main topic of today's session. Slovenia as the presiding country raised this issue of cancer on the political level after a successful conference at the professional level. In this manner, we would like to make a significant contribution to the reduction of the cancer burden and inequalities in morbidity and survival rates for patients with cancer among the Member States and within them. "In order to successfully manage cancer, it is necessary to design an overall strategy and an action plan encompassing all the relevant elements: prevention of disease, early detection, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care, as well as research. Without a comprehensive approach, the disease cannot be successfully managed," pointed out the presiding Slovenian Minister of Health, Zofija Mazej Kukovič.

The ministers offered their opinions in the area of cancer control, where they see opportunities for fostering mutual cooperation and added value at the European Union level. Moreover, they became acquainted with the best practices in the Member States. Additionally, today's discussion may have considerable influence on the further work of the European Commission, which is expected to prepare the cancer control action plan. The currently presiding Minister of Health, Zofija Mazej Kukovič, pinpointed that "The action plan is necessary for the Member States and is needed at the EU level. Implementation of this plan will contribute not only to the reduction of the burden of cancer but also to the reduction of the burden of numerous other chronic diseases.

The discussion held by the ministers again showed the utmost importance of prevention in the area of cancer control. At least one third of cancers can be prevented. It has been proven that disease prevention is the most effective and hence strongest means of reducing the burden of cancer in every country.

In spite of effective prevention, cancer remains a chronic disease. Data show that the number of cancer patients in the majority of European countries is on the increase among both women and men. One in three EU citizens will suffer from cancer and one in four will die of cancer. All who suffer from cancer have the right to high-quality care, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, psychological and social support and palliative care. In these areas, the exchange of experience and good practices, as well as networking, are particularly valuable.

In their positions taken during the discussion, the ministers expressed their political support for adopting commitments to reduce the burden of cancer. The issue was particularly highlighted at the conference entitled The Burden of Cancer - How Can It Be Reduced held on 7 and 8 February in Brdo pri Kranju. It is expected that the ministers will adopt formal Council conclusions on the reduction of the burden of cancer, providing a basis for further activities in this area at a regular session in Luxembourg in June.

During the meeting, Minister Kukovič emphasised the role played by the European Parliament, which adopted several papers in connection with cancer in the past week, as well as the Resolution on Cancer as an invaluable contribution of civil society to bringing cancer under control.


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Date: 18.04.2008