DICE Thematic Network Newsflash October 2020

October 7 brought over 70 of us together for the second Thematic Network Live Webinar on the European Health Policy Platform. We looked into: ’The Financials of CRC Screening – Better Investments to Save More Lives’.

Stefan Gijssels, Digestive Cancers Europe CEO, pictured left, opened the session. He underlined the importance of screening as a key element of prevention, worthy of public investment as it is proven to save lives.

This was then demonstrated by the best practice example given by Isabel Portillo Villares, Coordinator of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme, from the Basque Region in Spain.

Stefan Gijssel’s opening set the stage, saying that currently in Europe, taking into account the cost of care, informal care, premature mortality and the loss of productivity, the cost of colorectal cancer amounts to 19 billion euros per year.

While the cost of treatment in stage 1 is around 4,000 euros, it rises dramatically in stage 4 to an average of 40,000 euros, amounting up to 170,000 euros. As most people are diagnosed in stage 3 and 4 and only 13% in stage 1 the pressure on the economy rises. He also noted the great disparity between the countries and their population screening between 50 and 74 years old.

Discussion points included:

  • How the extraordinary Basque program can be used as a model for other European countries and how it should be integrated into the European Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan.
  • How such population-based programs in the EU are successful mainly due to the high commitment of and close cooperation with the primary care sector.
  • The fact that women participate more than men, while men have a higher chance to be affected.
  • The need to face such challenges of inequalities – of gender, deprivation and access. Important factors that must be overcome for optimal prevention program participation rates, both at EU and national levels.
  • How one potential solution to such inequalities is the use of free tests, and the active role of GPs breaking taboos and motivating people.

In all, the discussion concluded that screening for CRC cancer is complex and requires financial investment, but is highly cost-effective with clear and proven benefits that save lives!

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