In 2020, 2.7 million people in the European Union have been diagnosed with cancer. Another 1.3 million people, including more than 2,000 young people, have lost their lives to the disease. If decisive action is not taken now, the number of cancer cases is expected to increase by 24% by 2035, making this disease the leading cause of death in the EU.

As an substitute member of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Cancer (BECA), MEP Vlad Gheorghe believes that the European Union’s new plan to fight this relentless disease, which kills around 1.3 million EU citizens a year, could make a difference in Romania too.

The main directions and areas of action

4 billion euros will be allocated for the next 4 years in various programs that will support the elimination of inequalities in the detection and treatment of the disease in all European Union countries by:

📌access to information and screening for prevention and early diagnosis;
📌access to state-of-the-art treatments for all patients in the EU;
📌forming networks of research and treatment centers;
📌a better life for patients and survivors with a dedicated SMART CARD;
📌sustainable cancer prevention – a tobacco-free generation, reducing excessive alcohol consumption, reducing environmental pollution, reducing exposure to carcinogens and radiation, better education and promoting a healthier lifestyle.

This cancer plan will be supported by actions covering a wide range of policy areas, from employment, education, social policy and equality, to trade, agriculture, energy, the environment and climate, to transport, cohesion and taxation policy.

The cancer plan is structured around four main areas of action. It has 10 flagship initiatives and numerous support actions. This plan will be implemented with the help of the full range of Commission funding instruments, including the “EU for Health”, “Horizon Europe” and “Digital Europe” programs.


As prevention is the key to the fight against cancer, actions are being taken to reduce the main risk factors such as tobacco (in order to ensure that, by 2040, less than 5% of the population consumes tobacco), harmful alcohol consumption, environmental pollution and hazardous substances. In addition, the “HealthyLifestyle4All” campaign will promote a healthy diet and physical activity.

Early detection

Early detection of cancer is the second key to the solution. The aim is therefore to improve the quality of and access to diagnoses and to support Member States. A new EU-supported cancer screening program will be proposed.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis and treatment must be developed through concrete actions to provide patients with better integrated and comprehensive care. The issue of unequal access to quality care and medicines must also be addressed. By 2030, 90% of eligible patients should have access to national integrated oncology centers, connected through a new network at EU level.

Improving the quality of life

The next key chapter is to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and people who have survived this disease, including rehabilitation, possible recurrence of tumors, metastatic diseases, and measures to support social integration and reintegration into the workplace.

Cancer Knowledge Center

A new Cancer Knowledge Center will also be launched. It will help coordinate cancer-related scientific and technical initiatives at EU level. A European initiative on cancer imaging will be set up. Its aim will be to support the development of new computer-aided tools for  improvement of personalized medicine and innovative solutions.

Helping children with cancer

“Helping Children with Cancer” initiative will ensure that children have access to fast, optimal screening, diagnosis, treatment and care services. In Romania we have  NGO Give Life that makes the only hospital dedicated to children with cancer, exclusively from donations. It does it at European standards, fast and with costs well below those of the state.

The main actions of this plan are aimed at:

The new EU plan to win the fight against cancer

The new EU plan to win the fight against cancer

Statistics and perspectives in Romania

All this funding can be transformed into completed and functional projects, including for Romanian patients.

In Romania, cancer statistics are even more worrying than the EU average. Adela Cojan, interim president of CNAS, made a shocking statement just a few weeks ago: 88% of cancer patients treated in 2019 died in 2020.

Fortunately, the reality, ever unsatisfactory, is not so gloomy. In the last eight years, there have been 121,000 deaths in patients who began treatment no more than two years before death. The annual figure is around 10,500 such cases. That is, 7.6% of cancer patients treated within a year, lose their battle with the disease within a year or two of starting treatment.
But certainly this reality is far from acceptable. This is because in Romania the survival rates at five years after treating some forms of cancer – such as breast, prostate and cervical cancer – are well below EU averages. But the key to fighting cancer is prevention: about 40% of cancers could be prevented by effective prevention strategies.

Beyond numbers and statistics are individual dramas and a lot of suffering, amplified by our deficient health system. We do not have coherent screening and prevention programs, oncological drugs are updated and provided with difficulty, and the patient is often reached too late.

In this context, the new plan of the European Union to fight this disease, can also bring to Romanian patients access to better tools for prevention, diagnosis and treatment.