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News announcement19 October 20173 min read

Addressing the information gap in Europe's fight against breast cancer

ECIBC illustration
© European Union, 2017

The JRC has published an interactive European map with information on breast cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care for 35 countries. The map provides a Europe-wide snapshot to help the EU and Member States secure equal access to high quality care across the continent.

The publication of the country profiles, in a user-friendly format, provides an overview for those treating the disease as well as those affected and relevant stakeholders, such as patient advocacy groups. Each factsheet outlines the progress a country has made so far in implementing the evidence based guidelines provided by the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC). The profiles are a tool to help countries as they work to guarantee the highest quality of their interventions.

The online tool has been released on the occasion of this year's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease.

ECIBC country profile screenshot
© European Union, 2017

Each of the country profiles shows the number of breast cancer diagnoses and deaths per 100,000 of population, displayed alongside the EU average. The participation rate in a country's screening programme is also shown, as well as the quality assurance schemes the country may have in place. Specific indicators like health expenditure as a percentage of GDP and number of general practitioners per 100,000 people are also detailed.

The factsheets are based on several surveys with countries taking part in the initiative. The most recent of these looks at the implementation of specialised breast units in Europe.

More money spent doesn't always mean a higher survival rate

The website also displays data on the cost of cancer treatment per head of population in real terms (with adjustments made according to cost of living) against the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

ECIBC countries chart screenshot
© European Union, 2017

Rates of incidence should be included in these kinds of correlations to get a more complete picture. However, there is a general correlation between the cost of care and the survival rate, with some possible observations. For example, countries like Portugal and Malta have a relatively high survival rate (82% and 84% respectively) despite the cost of care being relatively low (€7 and €6). Countries like Germany (84%, €29) and Austria (83%, €19) have similar rates of survival but a higher cost of treatment.

Understanding data like this will help ECIBC participant countries to develop a quality-assurance scheme that ensures diagnosis, treatment and care is both effective and accessible to patients.

An inclusive and transparent approach to fight breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Europe, accounting for 1 in 6 cancer-related deaths. The number of diagnoses is growing at a faster rate than any other form of the illness. Compiled by the ECIBC, the new data in the country profiles will help policymakers to take effective action to combat the disease and improve prospects for those who may be affected in the future.

The work represents the culmination of a number of surveys and reviews from 2013 until 2016 on various aspects of breast cancer care organisation in the countries participating in the initiative. Each Country profile summarises the organisation and key characteristics of breast cancer screening and care as well as the participation and engagement of the country in the initiative. The profiles will be updated as new data emerge. They are being translated into the official languages of their respective countries.

The ECIBC is being developed under JRC coordination with a transparent, bottom-up and inclusive approach. The constant feedback and engagement from countries enrich its agenda and feed into work on developing an EU-wide quality assurance scheme.

Countries taking part in the initiative are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom

Related Content

European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC)


Publication date
19 October 2017