28 January 2021

With the Cancer Plan due, there is a formula for effective early detection

With the European Commission due to officially publish its much-anticipated Beating Cancer Plan on 3rd February, leaks suggest that it will have a strong emphasis on prevention and early diagnosis. This may give hope to prostate cancer campaigners, who are calling on the EU to require member states to introduce early detection programmes.

According to the Euroactiv news website, its main pillars will be prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. The actions set out, including seven flagship initiatives, will “aim to support, coordinate and even supplement member states’ efforts at every stage of cancer care, including prevention and quality of life of survivors,” according to Euroactiv.

A new paper published in European Urology proposes a formula for prostate cancer screening programmes and urges the EU and European Commission to endorse such a strategy so that EU member states can incorporate it in their national cancer plans.

The new formula is based on risk stratification and use of MRI screening alongside PSA testing, so that the risk of overdiagnosis and overtreatment are minimised.

“The proposed algorithm exploits the knowledge gathered on prostate cancer screening and novel technologies over the past decades, which reduce the harms and may be able to increase the benefits of the classic screening strategy,” say the authors who include Hein Van Poppel, EAU Adjunct Secretary and a Europa Uomo ex-officio Board member, and Professor Monique Roobol from Erasmus University Medical Centre, who led analysis of Europa Uomo’s recent quality of life study.

“The time has come to start implementing organised, risk-stratified early detection of PCa for well-informed men throughout the European Union.”