Cancer, the EU launches the plan against papillomavirus and hepatitis B – WWN

Cancer, the EU launches the plan against papillomavirus and hepatitis B – WWN

Of Francesca Basso

The EU Commission’s recommendation to prevent viral infections that can lead to cancer through vaccination

From our correspondent
BRUSSELS – The EU Commission estimates that around 40% of cancer cases in the European Union are preventable but only around 5% of total health spending in 2021 – according to a report published on Wednesday – was dedicated by EU countries to prevention. By 2035, cancer is predicted to be the leading cause of death in Europe. Healthcare is a national competence and, depending on the country, also regional, as in Italy. The European Commission can guide the choices. EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides presented a recommendation – a new part of the European Plan to fight cancer launched four years ago – to support Member States in their efforts to prevent viral infections, which can lead to cancer, by increasing vaccinations against human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).

The objectives

To eliminate cervical cancer and other cancers caused by HPV, the European plan to fight cancer has set the goal for EU countries to reach HPV vaccination rates of 90% for girls and significantly increase vaccination of boys by 2030, leaving this target at the discretion of the Member States. The plan also aims to ensure access and greater widespread vaccination against the hepatitis B virus, in particular to prevent liver cancer. According to the EU Commission, these vaccines are essential to protect public health and support resilient health systems. Commissioner Kyriakides underlined that prevention is always better than cure. Every year in the EU, almost 14,000 lives are lost due to cervical cancer and over 16,000 new hepatitis B infections are recorded. With safe and effective vaccines, we have a historic opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer. uterus and other cancers caused by these viruses. And the Commission stands ready to support Member States in every possible way to reduce the number of people affected by cancer.

The register of inequalities

The risk of dying from cancer in Europe varies not only from country to country but also within the same country. Equity in health is non-negotiable – said the commissioner -. This is one of the fundamental principles of the European Health Union that we have built in recent years. Our work under the Cancer Plan is critical to making this a reality. A useful tool European register of oncological inequalities which records the differences between states. The estimated incidence of cancer increased between 2010 and 2022 in 14 of 24 countries with available data, while mortality decreased by 10% during this period, with reductions in most tumors. However, cancer mortality remains high (representing 22.5% of all deaths). For many types of cancer, Mortality rates by age are higher in Central and Eastern European countries (Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Slovak Republic and Slovenia), while Western European and Nordic countries have the lowest mortality rates (Finland, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden).
Not everyone has the same risk of dying from cancer, even within the same country. Cancer mortality rates differ by up to 37% between regions of Romania and by at least 30% between regions of France, Germany, Poland and Spain. Men have mortality rates almost 70% higher than women. Furthermore, men with a lower level of education are 2.6 times more likely to die from lung cancer than their counterparts with higher levels of education, while for women the figure is 1.7 times.


It is estimated that in 2020, 6% of the Italian population was affected by cancer. The incidence and mortality from cancer in Italy are lower than the EU average. Furthermore, a gradual decline in mortality. Regarding the effectiveness of cancer treatments, Italy records relatively good results regarding quality indicators, with cancer survival rates slightly higher than the EU average. In men there is a higher incidence of cancer and a lower chance of recovery than in women, but also a more rapid decline in the mortality rate. According to the Inequalities Register, the number of diagnosed cancers will increase by 19.5% in Italy, from 382,670 new cases in 2020 to 457,824 new cases in 2040. Furthermore, the incidence of cancer among individuals aged aged 65 will increase by almost 40% by 2040, in line with the EU average. Over the last decade, cancer mortality has decreased for all major types of cancer, with the exception of pancreatic cancer. Habitual smokers are fewer than in the rest of the EU and the percentage of those who stop smoking is higher in northern Italy than in the south. Overweight and obesity are also lower than the EU average.

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January 31, 2024 (modified January 31, 2024 | 12:48)

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