EU executive promises new strategy to fight cancer

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission will present a new strategy to fight cancer by the end of the year, its president Ursula von der Leyen, who lost her younger sister to the disease, told the European Parliament on Tuesday.

The Commission estimates the economic impact of cancer in Europe at more than 100 billion euros ($110 billion) annually and said that without further action, cancer cases in the EU would double over the next 15 years to affect 40% of people.

The new Commission plan will propose actions from lifestyle changes to fighting pollution, vaccinations and better diagnosis. Prevention will be top priority because some 40% of cancer cases stem from causes that could be averted, the Commission said.

Von der Leyen noted the last EU scheme to prevent and detect cancer, a term that covers more than 200 diseases, was from 30 years ago.

“The world has changed. Europe has changed. And the number of cases is sadly on the rise,” von der Leyen told a news conference in Brussels.

A new case of cancer is diagnosed in the EU every nine seconds and the illness kills 1.3 million people annually in the bloc, according to data from EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine, editing by Robin Emmott, Jan Strupczewski, William Maclean