Europe Digestive Cancer Days 2017 Report

October 11, 2017

3rd European Digestive Cancer Days

Europe’s leading experts, policymakers and patient organisation came together to discuss opportunities in detection of digestive cancers.

The 3rd European Digestive Cancer Days took place in Prague between September 26-27, chaired by Thierry Ponchon, Chair of UEG’s Public Affairs Committee and Ladislav Dušek, Director of the Institute of Health Information and Statistics of the Czech Republic.

The meeting saw Europe’s leading experts, policymakers and patient organisation representatives come together from all over the continent to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the early detection of digestive cancers.

Opening the conference, Pavel Poc MEP stated that Europe is failing in its fight against cancer, pointing out that cancer kills approximately the same number of people as a ‘jumbo jet crashing every single day’, but that the political will to fight cancer is not proportionate to that of other such disasters.

Download our summary report to learn more about the European Digestive Cancer Days 2017



Colorectal cancer

Whilst it was accepted that great progress has been made in CRC screening – a consensus was reached that Europe should aim to completely avoid late stage treatment for CRC over the next thirty years. To achieve this, it would be essential that the implementation and uptake of CRC screening are dramatically improved, as huge variances in screening programmes, early detection and therefore mortality rates exist between European nations – especially between Eastern and Western Europe.

Pancreatic cancer

Achieving an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer patients was seen as the ‘main challenge’ because of its extremely low survival rate and increasing mortality rate. The conference considered how greater awareness with patients and GPs could help to encourage quicker diagnosis, which was emphasised by pancreatic cancer survivor Ali Stunt, who saw her doctor six times before being diagnosed. To make earlier diagnosis possible, experts presented on the importance of developing better risk profiling and ultimately, a proven early diagnostic test.

Key to achieving this would be higher levels of pancreatic cancer research funding. Pancreatic cancer receives less than 2% of all health funding in Europe, despite the fact that it accounts for 5.3% of all cancer related death.

Other digestive cancers

The conference heard that there a number of ways to screen for Barrett’s oesophagus, but issues existed with all of the current options – although the Cytosponge could be a viable option in the future, once it has been further developed.

In order to achieve early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), surveillance of high risk patients would be key – specifically, those with HCV, HBV, alcohol dependency, hereditary factors and NAFLD and NASH were seen as the key target population.

While there is currently no screening programme for gastric cancer in Europe, it was shown that screening could be cost effective in medium and high incidence countries if combined with a pre-scheduled colonoscopy.


The conference closed with a session on the importance of ensuring uptake of screening programmes. While 23 million Europeans had been invited to partake in CRC screening, only 10 million had actually attended.

Experts from successful national screening programmes identified techniques that could be used to tackle inequalities and ensure screening campaigns spoke to hard-to-reach groups as well as the importance of making screening as easy as possible.

The session concluded with presentations from a communications expert and a patient organisation representative, who stressed the importance of ‘getting the messaging right’ to encourage people to attend and in using novel campaigning techniques to raise awareness of screening and its benefits. The important role of patient organisations was also recognised, as a way of connecting with patients and the public that Government’s cannot.

Introduction from MEP Pavel Poc

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