Access to treatments for cancer, such as radiotherapy, surgery and drugs as well as the availability of anti-cancer drugs and medical training vary throughout the EU, according to a study published by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) on 3 October 2006. Access to information is also said to vary from country to country.
The survey published in Medical OncologyStatus in Europe is a study and comparison of countries, sub-specializations of oncology, on education and training, patterns of care, national guidelines on clinical research and cancer. The study found that Iceland, Switzerland, Italy and Germany have the highest number of both oncologists and facilities as to their population size, whereas Eastern European nations have fewer specialist units.
"This is a failure for Europe," said the president of ESMO, Dr Hakan Mellstedt, referring to thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths each year due to lack of care.
In Europe cancer is one of the biggest causes of death and continues to remain a major public-health concern. In 2004, 2 million new cases were detected and 1.2 million deaths reported. It has been estimated that one in three Europeans is expected to be diagnosed with some form of cancer at some point in their lives. The Commission has recognized that Europe is characterized by unacceptable inequalities in cancer control and has therefore for this reason launched several projects to create comparable indicators to monitor cancer.