European Health Union: Commission welcomes adoption of new EU cancer screening recommendations


EU member state governments intensely discussed and deliberated on the European Commission’s proposal on ‘A new European Union (EU) approach on cancer detection’, the Ministers of Health from all 27 EU Member States have agreed on the final version on 9 December. Some of the new cancers to be addressed, namely lung, prostate and gastric cancers. 

Following the Commission's proposal to strengthen cancer prevention through early detection, the Council of the EU has adopted a new approach on cancer screening. This new EU approach, based on the latest available scientific developments and evidence, is expected to help ensuring that 90% of the EU population who qualify for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings are offered such screening by 2025. The new approach also calls for extending screening programmes to prostate, lung and, under certain circumstances, gastric cancer, in a stepwise approach. 

The Recommendation is part of a new EU Cancer Screening Scheme, put forward as a flagship initiative of Europe's Beating Cancer Plan. European Urology Association a member of the ECO-European Cancer Organization interprets this as a green light for EU-wide guidance and collaboration on early detection of Prostate Cancer (

The link for recording of the public session online is here: (

Comments from WONCA Europe

Although it looks like far away from a guideline and more as a EU political decision and a roadmap, we understand that there are some important developments about prostate and lung cancer screening.

In summary, early detection programs for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers are widened to the majority of the Member Countries and the target is 2025. But for lung, prostate, and gastric cancers this does not place a guideline in EU country policies. What is accepted, is a recommendation inviting Member States on the basis of further research to:

  • explore the feasibility and effectiveness of low-dose computed tomography to screen individuals at high risk for  lung cancer , including heavy smokers and ex-smokers, and link screening with primary and secondary prevention approaches

  • evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of organized  prostate cancer  screening for men, on the basis of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in combination with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning as follow-up

  • follow screen-and-test strategies for Helicobacter pylori for countries and regions with high  gastric cancer  incidence and mortality 

The practical result is allocation of grants for these explorations and evaluations.

Financial support for cancer screening is available, with €38.5 million already committed for projects under the  EU4Health Programme , and €60 million under  Horizon Europe . Under the  2023 EU4Health Work Programme , an additional 38.5 million will support Member States to implement this new Council Recommendation and to develop EU guidelines. 

We found it important to share this news with our MOs and our Networks, to have a timely workout, a proper literature review and to create an evidence based recommendation. This requires to plan good quality open discussions, raise good research questions and later to plan relevant research to create “good quality knowledge” and to have a scientific view of Family Doctors/General Practitioners. For this purpose we plan a WE Talk session in the form of a debate for each of those recommendations by the European Commission, starting from Prostate Cancer. Further information will be provided to our members.


For More Information

Factsheet: Europe's Beating Cancer Plan – a new approach to cancer screening

EU policy on cancer