“All EU citizens deserve affordable screening for colorectal cancer,” MEP Alfred Sant said, when he launched the European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month organised by EuroColon at the European Parliament in Brussels.
“Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in Europe. Every year, around 470,000 people are diagnosed with it. Half do not survive. And while the disease is predominantly experienced by those over 50, there is a frightening increase in those under 50 being diagnosed,” he said.
Dr Sant, himself a cancer survivor, added that, “n the context of discrepancies in access to healthcare, colorectal cancer survival rates are greatly increased in countries that have better access to screening services, especially endoscopic screening and specialised care.”
“Unfortunately, as things stand right now, in Europe we still face huge discrepancies between countries concerning the level of colorectal cancer treatment and prevention.
“There are persistent differences in the survival rates of patients throughout Europe, suggesting that healthcare inequalities within the continent remain a prime reason for high mortality rates,” remarked the MEP.
Alfred Sant continued by saying that, “we often hear complaints in Europe about the quality and extent of public healthcare systems. In some cases, I am afraid we are regressing rather than progressing. That would be a downward convergence in health standards and outcomes which certainly does not reflect the principles of this Union.”
“We must therefore insist that if it is time for change in Europe, countries and regions that cannot provide what should be considered by our standards of today, basic healthcare for their citizens, must be given support and assistance.” said Dr Sant.
The Chairperson of EuropaColon Ms Jola Gore-Booth, congratulated Malta on the highly efficient system it has adopted for the screening of colorectal cancer.
The theme for this year’s Conference was Time for Change, which Ms Gore-Booth said was a clear indication that not enough progress is being made towards implementing a system of colorectal cancer screening across the European Union.
EuropaColon aims to unite patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, politicians, the media and the public in the fight against the disease. The organisation is currently represented by 40 groups across 31 European countries and has been acknowledged as the voice of colorectal cancer patients in Europe.