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Successfully leading Parliament’s Written Declaration on Breast Cancer – statement by Nessa Childers MEP

News item

Thursday 23 Jul 2015

Nessa Childers welcomes the endorsement of the majority of MEPs for a strong policy statement on breast cancer:

‘376 MEPs and more have signed the new written declaration on breast cancer. I want to thank everyone at Europa Donna and my staff, in particular Gabriella Giovinchi for the hard work necessary to bring this over the line’

This new European Parliament written declaration on the fight against Breast Cancer was launched by Nessa Childers MEP in partnership with Europa Donna (the European Breast Cancer Coalition) earlier this year.

To be passed a majority of MEPs must have signed this declaration by 27 July 2015. The declaration calls for the implementation of measures across Europe to battle this disease, which is the leading cause of death in European women aged 35 to 59, and it emphasises the needs of women with metastatic breast cancer.

Speaking this week as the campaign successfully draws to a conclusion Ms Childers said: ‘Since first elected to the European Parliament in 2009, I have prioritised public health legislation, and in particular EU support for cancer research prevention and treatment.

This declaration is important because the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer for women in the EU-28 is1 in 8. In Ireland breast cancer is the most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women and breast cancer survival in Ireland is lower than the European average, but similar to levels in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

‘But it must be noted that while Ireland has had excellent registration of cancer statistics many countries have none, or very limited, cancer registration, so cross country statistics should be treated with caution. This is one of the purposes of this declaration is to have a unified approach to prevention, detection and treatment across Europe.

‘We needed a majority of MEPs from all 28 member states to sign this Declaration, which aims to serve as a reminder to MEPs, new and old, of the need to implement the European Resolutions on Breast Cancer and the European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis (EU guidelines) which Europa Donna are striving to have implemented Europe-wide.

A Written Declaration is a statement of policy, and is a useful tool to encourage debate and raise awareness about issues of importance. The declaration is placed before the Parliament for signature, and any MEP can sign up if they would like it to become the official position of the European Parliament.

Nessa Childers explained: ‘Reaching this target was a big challenge, but worth the effort because of the impact good prevention and treatment will have on the lives of so many women throughout Europe. In 2010, a majority of MEPs signed a Written Declaration on Breast Cancer, which reaffirmed all of the items called for in the earlier breast cancer resolutions, and this new Written Declaration seeks to build and keep the momentum on fighting breast cancer.’

Written Declaration on the
Fight Against Breast Cancer in the European Union

The submission of the Declaration is an initiative of MEP Nessa Childers (Ireland) with co-signatories MEPs Simona Bonafè (Italy), Anna Záborská (Slovakia), Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (Poland), Françoise Grossetête (France), Marisa Matias (Portugal), Emma McClarkin (UK), Biljana Borzan (Croatia), Alojz Peterle (Slovenia) and Miriam Dalli (Malta).

As of today it has been distributed to all MEPs and will be available in all EU languages on the European Parliament website.

Every year 367,090 women in the European Union are diagnosed with breast cancer and 91,495 women die of the disease. The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer for women in the EU-28 is1 in 8. Early diagnosis through population based mammography screening programmes together with care and treatment in specialist breast units improves both mortality and quality of life. The Declaration therefore calls for the following:

• Member States to implement nationwide breast screening, in accordance with EU guidelines
• Member States to provide multidisciplinary specialist breast units (SBUs) in accordance with EU guidelines by the 2016 deadline
• Member States to ensure that people with metastatic breast cancer have access to, and are treated in, an SBU and that their ongoing needs for care and psychosocial services are co-ordinated and supported by the SBU, as per EU guidelines
• The European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC) project to deliver an accreditation protocol for breast cancer services by 2016; this protocol must ensure that mammography screening programmes and SBUs meet the requirements of the current EU guidelines and of the updated version of the EU guidelines, to be undertaken by the ECIBC in 2015

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