More and more people survive cancer. Survival rates and quality of life after recovery have much improved over the last decades due to developments in screening, diagnosis, and therapy. Increasingly, integrated cancer care systems should be able to maintain an adequate quality of life for those individuals living with cancer or having recovered from their struggle against this disease.
The European Commission has kept cancer high on its agenda for over 20 years. Together with the Member States and stakeholders, the Commission supported many actions on cancer that I believe have made a difference for the millions of Europeans living with cancer.
More recently, in 2009, the Commission launched the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer to help Member States and other stakeholders in their efforts to tackle cancer. The Partnership is fostering the exchange of knowledge and developing guidelines to support Member States in implementing comprehensive cancer plans by 2014. Such plans, which are now in place in most nations within the European Union, should contribute toward reducing cancer incidence in the European Union by 15% by 2020, reducing cancer mortality and improving the quality of life of patients with cancer. Indeed, most national cancer plans include palliative care and psychooncologic services. I am therefore persuaded that activities under the Partnership will contribute further to taking such aspects forward in the future.
In the meantime, the Commission is keen to continue supporting projects in which survivorship issues, including long-term side effects, are addressed. Through its Health Programme, the Commission has cofinanced a number of projects aimed at promoting comprehensive cancer care, including defining best practices in palliative care in Europe and fostering Member States' cooperation in the area of rehabilitation.
For more and more people, there is life during and after cancer, and this is why it is important to consider how best to support “cancer survivors” in moving their lives forward, either in terms of health care or social or psychological support, or in terms of reintegrating into active society. This publication presents a number of initiatives in this area enriched by experience from both sides of the Atlantic. I wish every success to such efforts that reinforce support for cancer survivors.