Lung cancer in Europe: the way forward

For too long, lung cancer has not been given the policy attention it deserves. The implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan offers a chance to remedy this.

Lung cancer in Europe: the way forward


Lung cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer. Its early symptoms are often overlooked and, by the time it is detected, the cancer is usually at an advanced stage, when treatment is significantly less effective. Currently, only 10% of people diagnosed with lung cancer survive for more than five years after diagnosis.

And yet, lung cancer does not have to be a terminal illness. If it is detected and treated early, up to 92% of people can survive at least five years after their diagnosis. There are many issues that affect detection rates, but, uniquely, stigma plays a huge part. Lung cancer is commonly associated with smoking, and the negative perceptions around this can act as a barrier to seeking care. This stigma also influences how lung cancer is perceived by people who are diagnosed, decision-makers and wider society.

Prevalence of lung cancer is expected to continue to rise, and there are still significant disparities in lung cancer care throughout Europe. But we have the tools to address this. By implementing population-wide screening programmes and increasing access to multidisciplinary care, we can improve outcomes for people with lung cancer.

The European Union has recently published its plan for tackling cancer – Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. With this focus, decision-makers have the opportunity to give lung cancer the policy attention it needs and establish a comprehensive plan for lung cancer across Europe.

What we’ve achieved

In partnership with an expert steering committee, HPP developed a think piece outlining the case for change in European lung cancer care. We propose four areas where policymakers can make a real difference to people with lung cancer:

  • improve awareness of the causes and risk factors associated with lung cancer and reduce stigma around it
  • focus on early detection by rolling out screening programmes to the whole population
  • address disparities in outcomes of lung cancer by tackling barriers to access for screening and care
  • make high-quality care available to all people diagnosed with lung cancer.

The think piece was officially launched at a webinar on 15 February 2022. Five expert panellists discussed the place of lung cancer in current European policies and what needs to be done to address inequalities in outcomes. The webinar was attended by 123 delegates.

An editorial based on the think piece was published in Tobacco Prevention and Cessation, the official journal of the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention. The full think piece PDF was included as supplementary material to download.

Key partners and stakeholders

The think piece was written by The Health Policy Partnership in collaboration with a steering committee:

Steering committee

  • Professor Tit Albreht, University of Ljubljana and National Institute of Public Health of Slovenia
  • Dr Anne-Marie Baird, Lung Cancer Europe and Trinity College Dublin
  • Professor Jacek Jassem, Medical University of Gdańsk
  • Aoife McNamara, Global Lung Cancer Coalition and Irish Cancer Society
  • Professor Silvia Novello, Women Against Lung Cancer in Europe and University of Turin
  • Cornel Radu-Loghin, European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention
  • Professor Dr Jan P van Meerbeeck, European Cancer Organisation, European Respiratory Society, and Antwerp University

Project funding

The think piece and the associated webinar were jointly funded by four funding partners: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Philips and Elekta. The Health Policy Partnership was commissioned to provide overall project management and lead the write up of the think piece. The think piece was developed in collaboration with a multi-stakeholder steering committee. All outputs are non-promotional, evidence-based and shaped by the authors (steering committee), who had editorial control and provided their time for free.