Digestive Cancers Europe (DICE) and its national members all share a common mission: to contribute to early diagnosis and decreased mortality from digestive cancers and to increase overall survival and quality of life.
We aim to represent the 800,000 people who are diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum and other rare digestive cancers every year in Europe, as well as the 1.5 million digestive cancer survivors and the families of the 500,000 patients who die every year from digestive cancers.
DICE is the new organisation that has grown out of Europa Colon, which has been representing the voice of the colorectal cancer community for 15 years with 40 member groups in 30 countries across Europe. We decided to expand to cover all digestive cancers.
We want to ensure that we change the current practice to ensure that more patients survive.
The colorectal cancer roadmap takes us through the patient journey. Red indicating poor and dark green indicating very good.
We are trying to create a dashboard in Europe to show how progress is being made.
Screening is critical, cost-effective and cost-saving through faecal blood testing and colonoscopy.
The Council Recommendation of 2003 on cancer screening recommended faecal occult blood screening for colorectal cancer in men and women aged 50 to 74. However, today only three countries do this. Slovenia is a wonderful example of what can be done, and the Netherlands and the Basque region of Spain stand out in terms of best practice.
In the Netherlands, 48% of patients are now diagnosed at Stage I, as compared to 15% without screening.
If the European Union was able to diagnose more colorectal cancer patients in stage I from the current 13% to 50%, 130,000 more lives could be saved per year and more than 3 billion€ in healthcare budget savings could be generated every year, and possibly the same amount in social and work-related value.
Screening challenges include that very often prevention and screening are part of what the regions do, while the money saved by it only benefits the federal budget, which offers a poor financial incentive for the regions to invest. This is the case in Belgium and some other countries, where prevention is regionalized. In order to organise screening properly, one has to work with other partners, for instance, the Ministry of Health has to work with the Ministry of the Interior, it requires working closely with GPs, laboratories, hospitals, as well as setting up communications campaigns to raise awareness. For many governments, this is far too complex and they prefer to ignore the problem, rather than deal with it.