Getting Citizens to Seek Answers on Colorectal Cancer – European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Launches

February 24, 2022
Getting Citizens to Seek Answers on Colorectal Cancer – European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month Launches

Every year, 500.000 citizens in Europe are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, with 240.000 people a year sadly passing away from the disease. Patients who are diagnosed early (stage I), have a 90% chance of survival as compared to only 10% when diagnosed in stage IV. Digestive Cancers Europe (DiCE) estimates that if the best screening practices would be applied across the continent 100.000 people could be saved every year. This is the basis for this year’s European Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (#ECCAM2022) that starts on Tuesday March 1. Along with our dedicated Member Organisations, Digestive Cancers Europe invites you to join our campaign and help spread the word across Europe on signs and symptoms, on reducing risk of getting the disease – and on the fact that colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is not an option, it’s a must.

“This year’s ECCAM campaign is all about encouraging the public to seek answers on colorectal cancer,” says Zorana Maravic, CEO Digestive Cancers Europe. “We invite the public through the visual pun of a question mark in colon form, to investigate their own risk of getting colorectal cancer, how they can mitigate it and when and how they should be talking to their doctor about colorectal cancer and getting screened.”

#ECCAM2022 Launch Event Strikes a Policy Chord

Along with this public outreach campaign available in 14 languages, Digestive Cancers Europe has also kicked off the campaign with a launch event on February 23, inviting policy makers, colorectal cancer screening experts and patient advocacy organisations to explore how to improve CRC awareness and make population-based screening available across Europe to reduce the number of deaths in colorectal cancer, and this in relation to the adoption of the EU Beating Cancer Plan and its Implementation Roadmap and the revised European cancer screening guidelines.

“Digestive Cancers Europe and EuropaColon, the organisation from which Digestive Cancers Europe grew, have been campaigning since 2008 on the necessity of population-based colorectal screening in mitigating this very real health threat. In fact, several countries have implemented population-based screening effectively and are proving its effectiveness,” explains Zorana.

The Effects of COVID-19 on CRC Screening

Worryingly, Digestive Cancers Europe is aware that some data may be suggesting that the pandemic will have increased mortality rates for colorectal cancer by more than 10%. While the countries with established screening programmes have been proving a quick recovery and are managing to catch up on the screening backlog created by covid, statistics show that the other countries without such programmes in place are lagging even further behind in early cancer diagnosis.

“For us, the experiences of being able to recover quickly and restart screening, from the exemplary countries and regions during the pandemic, is another argument towards the essential nature of having robust screening programmes in every European country,” reflects Zorana.

Implementation of the Beating Cancer Plan Roadmap and New Screening Guidelines are Essential

“So, we’re heartened by the approved BECA Report and Roadmap and revised screening recommendations that are about to be published. This is increased fuel and backing for our continued work in our public education and advocacy work. But experience has shown that these recommendations are only as good as their implementation and that’s why our organisation will continue to support its Members towards hopefully getting these European plans turned into reality in their countries. We hope that European authorities also do their best in the implementation phase, allowing the statistics to be overturned with stories of colorectal cancer being ones predominantly of survival. We believe our campaign is contributing to this and look forward to our further work, through ECCAM and beyond, with all stakeholders to attain this goal.”

Would you like to know more about the #ECCAM2022 campaign, help save lives and get involved? Discover it and get the materials.

About Colorectal Cancer

Every year, 500.000 citizens in Europe are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 240.000 of them die. Patients who are diagnosed early (stage I), have a 90% chance of survival as compared to only 10% when diagnosed in stage IV. Even though colorectal cancer evolves slowly, over a period of eight to ten years, the majority of patients are still diagnosed in the advanced stages (III & IV).

Along with their work supporting patients through strengthening the capacity of local organisations, Digestive Cancers Europe actively advocate on a European level for the following:

  1. Every citizen between 50 and 74 years old should get screened for CRC with the latest type of test
  2. All citizens should be aware of their family history of colorectal cancer and be tested in a timely manner. All family generalist doctors (GPs) should be aware of their patients’ family history and if colorectal cancer is present, to have patients tested in time
  3. Only Comprehensive Cancer Networks meeting the Essential Requirements of Quality Cancer Care in Colorectal Cancer should be allowed to treat colorectal cancer patients
  4. All citizens who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer should be directed to a dedicated colorectal cancer patient organisation
  5. All colorectal cancer patients should have access to their Electronic Health Records
  6. All colorectal cancer patients are entitled to the ten rights in the European Code of Cancer Practice.

Interested to know more? Please contact us.


Catie Young

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