Putting a Spotlight on Digestive Cancers in the Polish Parliament

May 27, 2024

On May 21, DiCE, together with our Polish member organisation EuropaColon Poland Foundation, had the pleasure of voicing the concerns of digestive cancer patients at a Health Committee sitting of The Senate of the Republic of Poland dedicated to the importance of screening and treatment standards in gastrointestinal cancers.

Patient Advisory Committee member Patrycja Rzadkowska represented DiCE. She outlined the European perspective and called on the Members of the Health Committee and Health Ministry present to improve the situation for Polish patients significantly.

Poland is ranked as the 6th worst country regarding CRC screening (OECD, 2023).

Iga Rawicka shared information about the educational projects EuropaColon Poland Foundation conducts, such as #niemiejtegogdzieś (CRC) and #uwaganadrogiżółciowe (bile duct cancer).

The meeting purposely discussed the most common digestive cancer (CRC) and the rarest (bile duct cancer) to juxtapose the situation and highlight the inequalities.

In Poland, over 20,000 cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed per year, and there are 1750 new cases of bile duct cancer.

Despite widely available CRC Screening Programs, the uptake is very low. This results in CRC cancers being diagnosed at a very late stage and leading to one of the highest mortalities in the EU.

This situation is avoidable if the authorities and all stakeholders involved increase their efforts to raise awareness and implement better solutions in screening programmes. Poland is behind in implementing the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) method for screening. The Polish CRC screening program is based on colonoscopy.

Sadly, it can be predicted that Poland will miss the EU’s targets set out in the 2022 Council Screening Recommendations. The 2003 Recommendations called for formal population-based screening programmes for all citizens between 50 and 74 years old. In Poland, only citizens between 50 and 65 can undergo colonoscopy. Although it is available for all people in this age range undergoing anaesthesia—they need to call one of nearly 650 specialist centres. However, the problem is in colonoscopy itself, and probably, by adding a FIT test, more people would take advantage of the CRC screening program.

In regards to bile duct cancer, it was suggested that, despite the lack of screening programmes, an ultrasound performed once a year would increase the possibility of detecting any abnormality (not only abnormalities representing bile duct cancer).

Moreover, it was highlighted that, in terms of access to treatment, for colorectal cancer, the Poles are treated according to ESMO recommendation, but for bile duct cancer patients, the situation is alarming because there is no drug programme (neither immunotherapy nor targeted treatment).

The Ministry of Health was asked to investigate the situation further. Discussions on this topic will continue, with Fundacja Europa Colon Polska, supported by DiCE, taking the lead.

Aleksandra Kaczmarek

In order to facilitate the use of our website, we use cookies.

Please confirm if you accept our tracking cookies. When declining the cookies, you can continue visiting the website without sending data to third party services. Read our complete cookie statement here.