Published: 30-01-2023 16:30 | Updated: 01-02-2023 19:10

EU Cancer Conference: “A clear objective is greater care equality throughout the EU.”

Portrait of Anna Martling at a stone wall.
Anna Martling at Almedalen 2022. Photo: Cecilia Odlind

The Swedish presidency of the EU began in the new year and so much is evident, especially when it comes to issues of healthcare. Anna Martling, chief physician and professor of surgery at Karolinska Institutet, will be leading the EU Cancer Congress, which kicks off in Stockholm on 1 February.

Tell us more, Anna Martling – what is the conference about?

“It’s a large EU project called Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, which the EU Commission launched in 2021. It reflects a political commitment that sets ambitious objectives along the entire cancer care pathway, from prevention and early detection to therapy and aftercare. France and the Czech Republic, which held the presidency before us, both pursued different issues in the cancer plan. Now that Sweden is presiding over the EU, we’ll continue to make sure that Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan is implemented in every member country.” 

What will you be talking about at this particular conference on 1 February?

“We’ll be focusing on prevention, early detection and data-driven care, which is about drawing scientific conclusions and making care recommendations on the basis of vast datasets, and about using large amounts of data to manage healthcare and make quality follow-ups.”

What is your role on this day?

“I’ll be introducing the theme of each session. I’ll give a brief outline of the current situation, the problems we face and the potential that should be tapped in the areas under discussion, that’s to say prevention, early detection and data-driven cancer care. I’m there as an expert moderator. Another moderator, journalist Nedjma Chaouche, will also be facilitating the conference, inviting people to speak and asking questions.”

Who will be there?

“Each member country gets to send three delegates, so there’ll be around a hundred people there, mainly politicians, decision-makers, policymakers and other experts.” 

Has Karolinska Institutet had any other role for the conference?

“We’ve been very active in the production of the focus issues for the programme and recommended good speakers. I’ve also helped Nedjma Chaouche to sift out what’s important and how to word incisive questions.” 

Since this conference is being held at a political level, there’s the prospect of accountability. What do you say about that?

“These are the kinds of discussion we’re going to have – what will it take to achieve the objectives of the European cancer plan? What can the EU do to motivate and assist in the implementation of these ambitious objectives? It’s issues like these that are reflected in the programme, which is why the delegates include politicians, decision-makers and policymakers. The member countries must spur each other on and engage in mutual knowledge exchange. A clear objective is greater care equality throughout the EU.”

Two objectives of the European cancer plan

  • To vaccinate 90 per cent of the EU target population of girls and a significant percentage of boys against HPV by 2030. 
  • To offer screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer to 90 per cent of eligible EU citizens by 2025.