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Policies to prevent, research and raise awareness of diseases affecting women

Question écrite de M. Paolo BORCHIA - Commission européenne

Subject: Policies to prevent, research and raise awareness of diseases affecting women

Certain diseases – including both ovarian and breast cancer, along with a number of cardiovascular and gynaecological conditions – are a particular threat to women’s health, and specific steps need to be taken if they are to be detected early, treated effectively and cured.

However, none of that can come to pass if sufficient funding is not granted to research projects which search for the root causes of those ailments and develop ways of treating and curing them.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among EU women: in 2020, in excess of 350 000 cases (of which an estimated 14.4 % were terminal) were diagnosed, while around 45 000 patients were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Gynaecological diseases are another major health concern, with more than 10 % of women of reproductive age affected by endometriosis, which can prevent them from conceiving.

In view of the above:

1. With a view both to the development of new diagnostic procedures and innovative treatments and to promoting prevention practices, is the Commission considering bolstering funding for research projects into diseases that affect women?

2. As part of efforts to make women aware of the risks and symptoms associated with those diseases and of the best prevention practices, will the Commission step up its existing awareness-raising programmes?


Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 27 septembre 2023

Answer given by Ms Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission (28 September 2023)

The framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (R&I) (1) (2) (3) support the development of new diagnostic procedures and innovative treatments for diseases affecting women, including gynaecological and cardiovascular diseases, as well as promotion of prevention practices related to women’s health (4) (5).

The Horizon Europe Work Programme (6) and the Cancer Mission (7) offer further funding opportunities for research on women’s health, including calls on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of diseases. In addition, call topics request EU-funded R&I projects to integrate sex- and gender-based analyses.

In 2022, the Commission presented the ‘Healthier Together’ Initiative (8) to work with Member States and stakeholders on major public health challenges.

EUR 156 million are available under the EU4Health 2022 work programme (9) to support them in the implementation of actions. Member States may decide to prioritise or address diseases that affect women.

Under the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (10), a new Council Recommendation on cancer screening was adopted in 2022 (11), including provisions for breast and cervical cancer screening.

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3 ∙ ⸱

4 ∙ ⸱ Horizon 2020 projects FORECEE ( and MYPEBS ( respectively develop

cervical cancer prediction using omics and a risk-based screening strategy for breast cancer based on women’s risk factors to individualise prevention, screening and early detection. 5 ∙ ⸱

Horizon Europe project SEMICYCLE ( aims at deciphering female’s sex hormones — microbiota interactions during a menstrual cycle for an efficient personalised medicine in cardiometabolic disorders. 6 ∙ ⸱ 7 ∙ ⸱ For example, see Mission Work Programme 2023: miss-2023-cancer-01-01 8 ∙ ⸱ %20Commission%20has%20launched%20in%20December%202021,major%20NCDs%20and%20improve%20citizens%E2%80%99%20health%20and %20well-being 9 ∙ ⸱ 10 ∙ ⸱ 11 ∙ ⸱

| | ) It aims to ensure that 90% of the eligible population is offered such screenings, supported by European Guidelines and Quality Assurance Schemes (12) and further EU4Health funding.

An upcoming Joint Action will support the implementation of the recommendation. In the coming months the Commission will present a Council Recommendation on vaccine preventable diseases, focusing on Human Papilloma Virus vaccination.

Finally, the EU-level public awareness campaign ‘GetScreened EU’ (13) promoting cancer screening for breast and cervical as well as colorectal cancer has been launched in May 2023.

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