EU Documents

European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

The European Commission has published the 4th European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis in an effort to improve survival rates from breast cancer across Europe. The Guidelines are a benchmark for best practice and have been developed with input from over 200 professionals and client and patient advocates from 18 Member States (the former EU-15 plus Cyprus, Hungary and Poland) as well as Norway, Switzerland, Israel, Canada and the United States. New issues covered include digital mammography and advice for specialist breast units.

The European Guidelines aim to raise quality standards by bringing together at EU level the best examples from regional and national breast cancer screening programmes over the last 20 years. The Guidelines have been developed by the European Breast Cancer Network (EBCN), which was co-financed under the European Commission’s Europe against Cancer programme. EBCN activities are continuing in the framework of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)-co-ordinated European Cancer Network (ECN). Production of the new guidelines was co-ordinated by the European Reference Organisation for Quality Assured Breast Screening and Diagnostic Services (EUREF) project in the EBCN network and substantial input for some of the chapters was provided from the United Kingdom National Guidelines and experts of the European Society of Mastology (EUSOMA). The European Parliament Resolution on Breast Cancer calls for the implementation of the European guidelines across the European Union. An executive summary is available on the European Commission website. The full guidelines document (over 400 pages) can be ordered from the Office of Official Publications for the European Communities. The full guidelines document can also be downloaded for free. More information. Europa Donna has also produced a Short Guide to these Guidelines,; this Short Guide has also been translated into several European languages, with the support of the
European Union.

The European Parliament Resolution on Breast Cancer in the Enlarged European Union

The European Parliament adopted a Resolution on Breast Cancer incorporating all the EU Member States in October 2006 (EU-25). It reinforces the demands set out in the first Resolution on Breast Cancer of June 2003. The new resolution calls on Member States to ensure nationwide provision of specialist breast units in accordance with EU guidelines by 2016, since treatment in a specialist breast unit has been proven to raise chances of survival and to improve quality of life. It also calls on the European Commission to present in 2007 a progress report on the implementation of mammography screening programmes (see here below) and the steps taken to lower mortality rates in all the Member States, as stipulated in the Resolution of 2003. It also makes new demands, such as the strengthening of research, job protection for breast cancer patients, and European directives for breast care nurses.

The resolutions call for every woman in Europe to have access to the same first-class early detection, diagnosis, treatment and aftercare, irrespective of where she lives, her social status and her level of education. They establish requirements for mammography screening, treatment and the setting up of breast units according to European guidelines. Women between the ages of 50 and 69 must have the right to attend high-quality mammography screening at two-year intervals in dedicated and certified centres paid for by health insurance schemes.

European Code against Cancer

The European Code against Cancer is based on the conviction that many aspects of general health can be improved, and certain cancers avoided, by adopting a healthier lifestyle. Some of the lifestyle points it targets include smoking cessation, avoiding obesity, undertaking physical activity, following a healthy diet, limiting use of alcohol, reducing sun exposure, and avoiding known cancer-causing substances. It recommends public health cancer prevention programmes including breast screening, cervical screening, colorectal screening and vaccinations against hepatitis B virus infection. Find out more about the European Code against Cancer.

Commission Report on Cancer Screening, December 2008

Four years after the Council of Ministers of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on Cancer Screening (see below), most member states have “…acted on the Recommendation and intend to undertake further action where implementation is not yet complete. Nevertheless, overall the EU is still only around half-way towards implementing the Recommendations. Slightly less than half the population who should be covered by screening according to the Recommendations actually are; and less than half of those examinations are performed as part of screening programmes meeting the stipulations of the Recommendations”. Click here to see the press release and here to see the Report from the Commission to the Council, The European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Implementation of the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening.

Screening Implementation Report

Click here to see the full EU Screening Implementation Report of November 2008 on which the above Commission report was based. This report details the current implementation of screening in the member states based on the European Recommendations on Cancer Screening here below.

European Commission Recommendations on Cancer Screening

The European Commission Recommendations on Cancer Screening confirms the approved forms of screening that should be taken up by the European Union member states. Among other types of cancer screening, the proposal recommends mammography screening for breast cancer in women aged 50-69. Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening.