The Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) held a meeting on Monday with Spanish MEPs from the BECA Commission (Beating Cancer) in which other entities from the oncology field were present, such as patient associations, health professional organizations and also scientific societies, to convey to them the priorities that must be established in the fight against this disease.
This meeting had a double objective: to know the status of the priorities established by the European Plan against Cancer and, within the “Agreement Against Cancer”, to generate a shared space of knowledge and dialogue about the main measures to be promoted in Spain aligned with these priorities. The MEPs attending the meeting were from the European People’s Party, Dolors Montserrat, from Vox, Margarita de la Pisa, and the PSOE MEP Nicolás González Casares.
The meeting revolved around three blocks: on the one hand, the need to promote prevention, putting the main focus on the fight against smoking; achieve equitable access to proper diagnosis and treatment; and integrating all of the person’s needs into patient care.
Correcting inequities to prevent cancer in adults, adolescents and children was one of the topics discussed during the meeting. More than 40% of all cancers can be prevented through actions that create healthy living environments. In addition, the AECC recalled that early detection through screening is “the best chance of beating cancer and saving lives.” However, he warned that there are inequalities in the European Union both in terms of health promotion and coverage of screening programs. He gave the example of breast cancer screening since, even being the most widespread, the differences in coverage are multiplied by at least ten throughout the Union.
In Spain, he indicated that the great challenge is the fight against smoking from two fronts. “On the one hand, the necessary expansion of the Anti-Tobacco Law that includes, among other factors, more smoke-free spaces” and, on the other, starting to work on the early detection of lung cancer through a screening program.
This challenge, he continued, is also a priority for the Union and is part of the initiatives contemplated in the European Plan Against Cancer. “It is urgent to implement them in Spain and to achieve this, the possible contribution from the BECA Commission was discussed with the MEPs.”
“The inequities both in access to treatment and in comprehensive and continuous care for adults, adolescents and children with cancer was also a focus during the meeting. The European Plan has, as another of its objectives, to achieve quality care for people with cancer. But achieving it depends on several factors such as having highly qualified professionals who work in multidisciplinary teams; that sick people have access to specialized oncology services that offer adequate diagnosis and treatment; or that essential medicines are available, as well as access to innovation, ”he added.
Along with these factors, he insisted that we must not lose sight of the guarantee that people with cancer receive comprehensive and continuous care that covers all their needs, not only health, but also social, work and psychological, during all phases of the disease, especially at the end of life with specialized palliative care. “In addition, the prevention and early diagnosis of second tumors in cancer survivors of any age is of special interest.”
The European Plan to Fight Cancer constitutes a political commitment to reverse the trend in the fight against cancer and a further step towards a strong European Health Union and a safer, better prepared and more resilient Union. Within this plan, which has financing of more than 4,000 million euros, it is contemplated to guarantee equality in access to prevention, early detection, treatment and diagnosis of cancer and improvement of the quality of life of survivors of cancer.
All the entities attending the meeting are adhered to the ‘Agreement Against Cancer’ and from their different spheres of action contribute in a common front to correct the inequities that cancer causes or aggravates in the Spanish population.
Association of People Affected by Ovarian Cancer (Asaco); Spanish Association Against Cancer; Spanish Association of People Affected by Lung Cancer (Aeacap); Spanish Association for Cancer Research (Aseica); National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking (CNPT); General Council of Official Colleges of Physicians (Cgcom); General Council of Official Colleges of Psychologists (COP); General Council of Social Work (CTS); Federation of Spanish Medical Scientific Associations (Facme); Spanish Patient Forum (FEP); Foundation for Excellence and Quality in Oncology (ECO); NOFUMADORES.ORG; Patient Organization Platform (POP); Spanish Society of Epidemiology (SEE); Spanish Society of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (Sehop); Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM); Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology (SEOR); Spanish Society of Oncology Nursing (SEEO) and the Madrid Oncology Network.