General Information Scientific and Technological Background

Cancer does not discriminate against anyone and affects all who have it, no matter their age, gender or social status. It has also been noted by the European Commission that cancer poses an enormous burden for patients, families and societies in general and that the number of people diagnosed with new cancer every year in Europe is expected to rise from the current 3.5 million to over 4.3 million by 2035, unless action is taken.

The aim of creating a mission in this area was to help identify common goals so that this trend can be reversed. Along with other cancer-fighting initiatives in Europe, the aim is to facilitate the prevention of cancer, that early diagnosis can be improved, and that cancer patients suffer less and have a better life-quality, including after treatment. With these goals in mind, the European Commission launched the Cancer Mission initiative with the goal of beating cancer by the year 2030.

When designing the Cancer Mission, the European Commission aimed to establish a European Board of Experts (or Mission Board) so that they could determine a set of ambitious cancer-related measurable targets by organizing and developing recommendations on cancer research, innovation, policy, health care delivery and practices, with experts who have a significant impact on European society and citizens. The Commission also asked the Board to propose a coherent set of actions to achieve this goal within a given time frame. These actions will be implemented through Horizon Europe and other instruments of the European Union (EU) and EU Member States and will be aligned with other EU and Member State level initiatives.

The aims of the Cancer Mission are to save the lives of more than 3 million cancer patients by 2030, to ensure a longer and better quality of life, to better understand the cancer disease, to prevent cancer, to optimize diagnosis and treatment methods, and to improve the lives of all people who are exposed to cancer or who are related to someone with cancer. It is determined as providing support for the improvement of their quality and providing them with equal access to all citizens across Europe.

(Mission area: Cancer,
EC Cancer Mission Board, Proposed Mission – CONQUERING CANCER: MISSION POSSIBLE, (2020),

Action Zones (Optional)

For the Cancer Mission 5 Areas of Action and 1 Area for Cross-Cutting Recommendations have been determined. Under these areas, a collective total of 13 recommendations have been prepared by the Cancer Mission Board. These are:

Area 1 – Understand cancer, its risk factors and impact

  • Recommendation 1: Launch – a European Initiative to Understand Cancer
  • Recommendation 2: Develop an EU-wide research programme to identify (poly-)genic risk scores

Area 2 – Prevent what is preventable

  • Recommendation 3: Support the development and implementation of effective cancer prevention strategies and policies within Member States and the EU 
  • Recommendation 4: Optimise existing screening programmes and develop novel approaches for screening and early detection

Area 3 – Optimise diagnostics and treatment

  • Recommendation 5: Advance and implement personalised medicine approaches for all cancer patients in Europe
  • Recommendation 6: Develop an EU-wide research programme on early diagnostics and minimally invasive treatment

Area 4 – Support quality of life

  • Recommendation 7: Develop an EU-wide research programme and policy support to improve the quality of life of cancer patients and survivors, family members and carers, and all persons with an increased risk of cancer
  • Recommendation 8: Create a European Cancer Patient Digital Centre where cancer patients and survivors can deposit and share their data for personalised care
  • Area 5 – Ensure equitable access
  • Recommendation 9: Achieve Cancer Health Equity in the EU across the continuum of the disease
  • Recommendation 10: Set up a network of Comprehensive Cancer Infrastructures within and across all EU Member States to increase quality of research and care
  • Cross-cutting recommendations
  • Recommendation 11: Childhood cancers and cancers in adolescents and young adults: cure more and cure better
  • Recommendation 12: Accelerate innovation and implementation of new technologies and create Oncology-focused Living Labs to conquer cancer
  • Recommendation 13: Transform cancer culture, communication and capacity building

Scope and Goals

The Mission on Cancer will address the whole cancer control continuum, i.e. from prevention of risk factors to survivorship support and end-of-life care, for all ages and cancers, including rare and poorly understood cancers, cancers in children, adolescents/young adults and the elderly, cancers in socially or economically vulnerable families and among people living in remote areas, across all Member States. While the Mission provides directions and objectives for research and innovation, it will also generate evidence on factors that limit effective policy and support actions to conquer cancer. In this regard, the Mission’s actions will be able to make an important contribution to the Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. Vice-versa, the Cancer Plan will provide opportunities to complement the Mission on Cancer.

To be able to fulfil the goals of the Cancer Mission, 5 Areas of Action that must be taken and supported by all Member States have been determined. These are: 

  1. Improving methods and initiatives to prevent cancer (Prevent what is preventable)
  2. Optimise cancer diagnostics and treatments 
  3. Improve the quality of life of cancer patients, survivors, and their families and carers 
  4. Ensure equitable access to all of the above for everyone
  5. Understanding of cancers, causal factors and mechanisms, and their impact on cancer


(EC Cancer Mission Board, Proposed Mission – CONQUERING CANCER: MISSION POSSIBLE, (2020),


(No seperate budget has been determined)