Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Previous programme


Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 55 million

Official Journal Reference

L 137 of 1990-05-30

Legislative Reference

90/238/EEC of 1990-05-17
To increase knowledge of the causes of cancer and the possible means of preventing and treating it.


On 7 July 1986, the Council and the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, adopted a resolution on a programme of action of the European Communities against cancer (1987-1989) which was concerned principally with cancer prevention. The purpose of the present action programme is to continue and strengthen during the period 1990-1994, the actions undertaken during the first phase of "Europe against Cancer, in the fields of prevention, information and health education, and training of members of the health professions.

The Member States are ultimately responsible for implementing public health policy. The role of the Community in the fight against cancer, therefore, is to help coordinate and promote cooperation between Member States' activities in this field. (The Community has since been given a greater role in the area of public health through Article 139 of the Treaty on European Union.)

The action plan complements other Community measures in the area of cancer prevention. Various measures to prevent cancers arising from exposure to ionizing radiation or to chemical carcinogens are being implemented under the Treaties establishing the European Economic Community and The European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom). In addition, measures to reduce the risk of cancer from exposure to carcinogens are included in a number of other programmes on the environment, worker protection, consumer protection, nutrition, agriculture and the internal market.


Measures to be implemented:

- Cancer Prevention:
In addition to legislative action under way:
. Prevention of tobacco consumption (stimulation of projects of European interest concerning the prevention of nicotine addiction; stimulation of pilot projects to teach methods of breaking nicotine addiction to members of the health professions and to teachers; stimulation of innovative campaigns to prevent the use of tobacco among the general public and in the work place; financing of a study on the possibilities for putting tobacco-growing areas to other uses);
. Diet and cancer, including alcohol (stimulation of studies into eating habits and cancer in close conjunction with the Community's specific research programme on Biomedicine and Health under the Third Framework Programme (meta-analyses, case studies, prospective studies, intervention studies on "anti-promoting" agents; drafting and publication of guidelines on nutrition aimed at improving cancer prevention);
. Campaign against carcinogenic agents (continuation of all Community action concerning protection against ionizing radiation; support for comparative studies of European interest aimed at improving protection against ultraviolet radiation; support for European studies on the possible carcinogenic risks of certain chemicals; continuation of the classification and labelling, at European level, of carcinogens and continuation of the information campaign by means of specialized annual publications);
. Systematic screening and early diagnosis (comparative studies to improve the organization of cancer screening programmes; extension and monitoring of the European network of breast cancer screening pilot programmes; evaluation of existing cervical cancer screening programmes and the establishment of a European regional or local pilot programmes; continuation of evaluation programmes studies on screening programmes for colorectal cancer and possible establishment of a European network; promotion of studies of European interest on the effectiveness and feasibility of early screening for other cancers; promotion of, and support for, screening programmes where the results of exploratory studies have proved positive, in close coordination with the AIM and RACE programmes);
. Cancer registers and similar measures (support for exchange of experience in establishing cancer registers in the Community and for setting up a European network in cooperation with the International Agency for Research on Cancer and in close coordination with the AIM and RACE programmes);
. Other aspects (evaluation of the operation of the various bone marrow banks; feasibility study on cooperation between such banks; exchanging experience regarding the quality control of care given; establishment of an up-to-date list of treatments recognized as worthwhile by the international scientific community);

- Health information and Education:
. Information of the public (including possible updating of the European Code against Cancer; production of European information modules; support for innovative information campaigns on cancer prevention among targeted groups);
. Health education and cancer (including support for efforts to inform and increase the awareness of schoolteachers of the European Code against Cancer; the dissemination of European teaching material for health education);

- Training of the health professions:
. Support for the organization of national or regional meetings to promote the 1989 European recommendations on the cancerology content of basic training programmes for members of the health professions;
. Support for setting up three European pilot networks of medical schools, nursing colleges and dental schools for the purposes of cancer training;
. Promotion of cancerology training projects;
. Support for the mobility of the health professions between Member States;
. Collection and exchange of teaching material of European interest for the training of members of the health professions;
. Exchange of experience and support for the organization of European seminars on the continuing education of members of the health professions;
. Exchange of experience and support for the organization of European seminars on the continuing education of members of the health professions;
. Exchange of experience between Member States in the area of pain-relieving treatments, palliative and continuing care and the role of the health professions;

- Research and Cancer:
Contribution towards the preparation of a Fifth European Medical and Health Research Coordination Programme and a sixth ECSC Medical Research Programme.


The Commission is responsible for implementing the action plan in close coordination with the competent authorities in the Member States, and assisted by an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative. The duties of the advisory committee are to examine projects and measures involving cofinancing from public funds and to coordinate at national level projects partly financed by non-governmental organizations.

In implementing the action plan, the Commission must closely involve the high-level Committee of Cancer Experts and the private bodies active in the fight against cancer. Cooperation with the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer is also promoted whilst the Commission is responsible for encouraging every kind of exchange with third countries in connection with the activities covered by the action plan.

The Commission will continuously assess the activities undertaken by the action plan and regularly publish technical information on the progress of the action plan and on potential Community financing in the various fields of activity. The Commission is responsible for ensuring that the European Parliament, the Council and the Economic and Social Committee are kept up-to-date on the progress in implementing the action plan.

In 1992, the Commission submitted a report on the progress in implementing the action plan which was used by the Council and the Ministers of Health to carry out a scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities undertaken by the action plan (COM(93) 148). On the basis of this evaluation, the Council decided on 27 May 1993 to increase the budget allocated to the action plan for the four-year period from ECU 50 million to ECU 55 million.
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