Europe, a lab for cancer prevention studies

The coming of the European Community has facilitated research across the borders and despite the economic constraints, there is strong believe that international research will increase in the near future.

Europe remains a laboratory for cancer prevention research and hypotheses development.  The important differences between the European countries in cancer prevalence indicate that lifestyles, toxic environments and working conditions are still very much different as well.  Noting that genetic factors cause cancer in less than 10 per cent of the cases, there is reason to believe that more than 70 per cent of the cancers are preventable, in particular the most prevalent cancers are related to the way we live.

The International Agency of Cancer Registration plays an important role in combining national and regional cancer registries and is a strong partner for the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. The publications provide a robust source of epidemiological data to start studying differences between regions and guides priorities for better understanding the disease.  In addition, results of implementation strategies will show up and allows us to evaluate the many efforts in cancer prevention.

Despite the recent controversies in cancer screening, in particular breast cancer, there is no doubt that secondary prevention remains an important tool in reducing mortality.  Breast cancer mortality has dropped from over 60 per cent in the 50ties to almost 10 per cent for early diseases.  The same trend has been seen in colorectal cancer and prostate cancer.  Due to consistent and persistent efforts, the figures will further improve in the next decades.  What has been learned in one country can now easily translated for other areas in the European Community.

ECP has identified new threats as well.  Better living conditions in developing countries, such as in East Europe, harbour danger to health.  The upcoming obesity epidemic has major impact on the rise of diabetes mellitus type 2 and will have an impact on obesity related cancers as well.  It is one of the priorities of ECP for the next decades to see that what we gain in developed countries is not compensated by cancer increase in the developing ones.

The availability of vaccines, in particular for cervical cancer, has created another substantial weapon to fight cancer and ECP will try to identify that these vaccines come to the right individuals in Europe and abroad. It also pleases ECP to see that the industry, maybe for the first time in history, becomes interested in prevention rather than treating the disease.  With the wide variation in cervical cancer in the European community ECP can help the industry in developing the right business cases for those women at highest risk.

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