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Develop new methods and technologies for cancer screening and early detection


Research is needed to develop and validate non-invasive, or minimally invasive cancer screening and detection methodologies for everyday medical practice and population-based screening programmes[[Refers to secondary prevention]], including enhanced participation of the target population. These programmes should become faster, more precise and personalised, affordable and accessible.

Proposals should address all of the following:

  • Based on weaknesses, gaps and possibilities for further development of existing screening and early detection methods and technologies (including those used in population-based screening programmes), develop and validate non-invasive (or minimally-invasive) cancer screening and detection methodologies. This includes ‘integrated diagnostics’[[Combines information from radiology, imaging, pathology, genetics, genomics, phenotyping, laboratory testing, information technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.]] based on, for example, imaging, tissue, fluid or exhaled breath gas biomarkers, and agile screening methodologies including digital technologies (such as self-sampling, mobile screening units, digital apps or smart wearables, sensors, telemedicine and remote monitoring technologies combined with sophisticated data analytics tools), duly considering digital and health literacy of people.
  • Proposals should assess the potential uptake of these methods and technologies in national health systems, clearly identify the target population and consider implementation needs (including health workforce skills). Applicants should also consider aspects of effectiveness, affordability and accessibility when proposing solutions, particularly to enhance participation of the target population.
  • Proposals should consider the use of living labs or other implementation research models that use open knowledge and (social) innovation systems and support end-user engagement.
  • The influence of age and early-life factors and determinants; genetic risk; socio-economic status; behavioural, including lifestyle risk factors; environmental factors; as well as social, cultural, sex and gender aspects, including inequalities, should be taken into account across all aspects mentioned above. In addition, differences within and between countries and regions should also be reflected.

Expected stage at project start: Technological Readiness Level 4 and above.

This topic requires the effective contribution of SSH disciplines and the involvement of SSH experts, institutions as well as the inclusion of relevant SSH expertise, in order to produce meaningful and significant effects enhancing the societal impact of the related research activities.

Due consideration should also be given to other relevant EU-funded initiatives[[Such as HealthyCloud, EOSC-Life and the European Health Data Space (EHDS) Joint Action. Topics HORIZON-INFRA-EOSC-2021-01-06 (FAIR and open data sharing in support of cancer research), HORIZON-INFRA-SERV-2021-01-01 (Research infrastructures services to support research addressing cancer), HORIZON-HLTH-2021-DISEASE-04-01 (Improved supportive, palliative, survivorship and end-of-life care of cancer patients), HORIZON-HLTH-2021-CARE-05-02 (Data-driven decision-support tools for better health care delivery and policy-making with a focus on cancer).]]. Successful applicants will be asked to liaise with these different initiatives where applicable[[Applicants are not expected to contact these initiatives before the submission of proposals.]], with the Commission acting as a facilitator.

The funded actions should build upon resources made available by the Knowledge Centre on Cancer[[Especially through the ’European Guidelines and Quality Assurance Schemes for Breast, Colorectal and Cervical Cancer Screening and Diagnosis‘, and the ’European Cancer Information System (ECIS)’, see]] and complement actions under the future Innovative Health Initiative, EIT Health Knowledge Innovation Community initiatives[[]] and the Digital Europe programme (Cancer Imaging Initiative, Genomics)[[]].

Furthermore, all projects funded under this topic are strongly encouraged to participate in networking and joint activities with other ongoing projects under the mission on cancer and other cancer relevant projects, as appropriate. These networking and joint activities could, for example, involve the participation in joint workshops, the exchange of knowledge, the development and adoption of best practices, or joint communication activities. This could also involve networking and joint activities with projects funded under other clusters and pillars of Horizon Europe, or other EU programmes, as appropriate. Of particular importance in this context is topic HORIZON-MISS-2021-COOR-01-01, “Coordination of complementary actions for missions”.

The Commission may facilitate Mission-specific coordination through future actions. Therefore, proposals should include a budget for the attendance to regular joint meetings and may consider covering the costs of any other potential joint activities without the prerequisite to detail concrete joint activities at this stage. The details of these joint activities will be defined during the grant agreement preparation phase and project duration. In this regard, the Commission will take on the role of facilitator for networking and exchanges, including with relevant initiatives and stakeholders, if appropriate.