4 February is World Cancer Day. Initiated by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the aim of this day is to raise awareness of this disease, which is now the second most common cause of death in the world.
In Luxembourg, around 3,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed every year and more than 1,000 people die from this disease. The most common cancers in men are lung, prostate and colorectal, and in women breast, lung and colorectal.
Cancer prevention: Reducing risk factors and cancer screening
In general, a healthy lifestyle helps to reduce the risk of cancer. The Health Directorate recommends the following habits:
- Do not smoke,
- Do not drink alkohol,
- Moderate consumption of red meat (max. 500g/week) and processed meat (max. 150g/week)
- Eat fruit and vegetables every day,
- Exercise regularly and avoid being overweight.
More specific preventive measures are also recommended, such as vaccination and screening.
For the first measure, vaccination against the HPV virus is recommended to prevent cancers of the cervix, anus, oropharynx, penis, vulva and vagina, and vaccination against the hepatitis B virus to reduce the risk of liver cancer.
Regarding the second measure, regular screening can identify cancers whose treatment, if started at an early stage of the disease, can be even more effective. In Luxembourg, the Directorate of Health has set up two organised screening programmes to detect breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
The Coordination Centre for Cancer Screening Programmes, which is part of the Preventive Medicine and Public Health Unit of the Health Directorate, is currently evaluating the implementation of four new organised cancer screenings recommended by the European Commission: stomach cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer and bronchopulmonary cancer. These screenings could theoretically reduce cancer mortality in Luxembourg by at least 50%.
Actions against cancer in Luxembourg: the second National Cancer Plan (PNC2) 2020-2024
"Cancer is a real public health challenge for our societies. In order to better combat this disease, a second cancer plan has been drawn up for the period 2020-2024", says Paulette Lenert, Minister of Health.
The second National Cancer Plan 2020-2024 (PNC2) will enter its second year of implementation in 2022. Several actions and projects have already been implemented thanks to the involvement of the institutions, all health professionals and patients in the dedicated axes and working groups.
Amongst all the themes addressed, particular attention was paid to accessibility and care of the extreme ages of life, from paediatrics to oncogeriatrics. On the one hand, the PNC2 focused on the care of children and adolescents. On the other hand, the PNC2 organised the first conference dedicated to oncogeriatrics, in order to lay the foundations for an ambitious challenge of organising care for elderly cancer patients.
Strong support will also be given to translational research activities (research aimed at translating scientific discoveries into medical treatments), in order to foster links between basic and clinical research and to move towards increasingly personalised medicine for the benefit of patients. For more information, please visit the website of the National Centre for Translational Cancer Research (NCTCR), which is supported by the PNC2: https://nctcr.lu/fr/.
In addition, a national study called Colive Cancer has just been launched, which aims to survey patients on the entire value chain related to cancer in order to identify and prioritise actions to be taken based on reliable and up-to-date data at the Luxembourg level. Funded by the PNC2, the Colive Cancer study strongly encourages people affected by cancer to participate. The questionnaire is available at https://www.colivecancer.lu/.
With a partner such as the Institut national du cancer (INC), the PNC2 also aims to support European initiatives in which Luxembourg can participate, such as the Joint Action CraNe, which aims, among other things, to set up a national network for lung cancer.
Press release by the Ministry of Health