20 September 2022

Long campaign by Europa Uomo bears fruit

Europa Uomo has welcomed the European Commission’s announcement that it will extend recommended population-based cancer screening programmes in Europe to prostate cancer.

The announcement follows a long campaign by Europa Uomo and the European Association of Urology (EAU) calling on the European Commission to extend its 2003 screening guidelines, which recommended organised, population-based screening programmes for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. Europa Uomo said that the recommendation should be extended to include prostate cancer to take account of recent evidence which changed the balance of risks and benefits.

Now, in new guidance published this week, the Commission has accepted the case that the benefits of prostate cancer screening, based on a risk-stratified programmes using PSA testing for at-risk groups, far outweigh any risks of overdiagnosis.

The Commission has added PSA-based prostate cancer screening for men, in combination with additional MRI scanning as a follow-up test, to the list of programmes that will benefit from European guidelines and quality assurance work.

According to the Commission, the new screening scheme “aims to extend organised screening to prostate, lung and gastric cancer (the latter under certain conditions), based on the assessment of validated new screening tests, and on consideration of more general health system parameters, including risk-benefit ratio and cost-effectiveness”.

Guenther Carl, Europa Uomo’s Chairman, said that the new announcement would be life-changing.

“Many of us are only alive and active today because our cancers were detected early by elevated PSA levels,” he said. “Prostate cancer has been a silent killer for too long. It also negatively impacts the quality of life of too many men and their families. Our patient-led surveys have shown that the best patient quality of life is obtained by men who have their cancers caught early and who can be treated on active surveillance or, if their cancer is higher risk, with active treatment.”

“Those with aggressive cancers that are caught too late suffer many problems. We are delighted to see that prostate cancer has been added to the list.”

The EAU said it was excited by the approach being taken by the European Commission. “We warmly welcome their proposal to include PSA-based prostate cancer screening with a risk- adapted approach for follow up,” said Hein van Poppel, Chair of the EAU’s Policy Office. Their approach “means that we can catch aggressive cancers early, helping us to ensure men do not suffer and die from this disease unnecessarily.”

“The risk-adapted follow up will help eliminate concerns about overdiagnosis and overtreatment. We are sure this approach will help us as clinicians to ensure better outcomes for men with prostate cancer.”