In the Press

Pink October 2021: Let’s reverse the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients

As we start the month of October, many of us will be invited to a number of pink themed events and activities seeking to raise awareness in relation to breast cancer and the importance of early detection through screening. This has been an annual campaign which has proved to be very effective in strengthening global awareness about the importance of the preventive aspect in the fight against breast cancer. The momentum which has been built by this annual campaign has also spilled over to other types of cancer which are a step behind in relation to the availability of screening services and the general awareness on the importance of early detection. As we know, 40% of cancer cases are preventable and therefore the importance of investing efforts in effective cancer prevention strategies cannot be stressed enough. The challenges faced by cancer patients all over the world during the past two years should drive us to be even more forceful in our efforts to campaign for this cause during this month. COVID-19 has had a significant impact not only on its victims but also on other patients seeking other health services including cancer patients seeking access to care and screening services. We know that in the very first year of the pandemic, clinicians all over Europe saw 1.5million less cancer patients when compared to the business as usual situation. In Europe, we have seen a situation whereby 100 million screening tests were not performed for reasons relating to the pandemic. We are facing a reality in which 1 in 2 cancer patients in Europe did not receive the surgical or chemotherapy treatment they required in view of the pressure which the pandemic has put on hospital services and patient’s hesitance to access these services for fear of being exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reactivation of screening programmes and cancer services all across Europe and beyond is therefore crucial to reverse the damage that has been caused during these two years. It is also important for Governments to invest in campaigns which help restore people’s trust in the safety and necessity of these programmes and services. This is one of the priorities which I’m focusing on in my work as the Maltese Member of the European Parliament sitting on the Special Committee Beating Cancer. For this reason, together with the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca as Chair for the Emanuele Cancer Research Foundation Malta, I have joined the Time to Act campaign. This is a campaign which is being coordinated by the European Cancer Organization and which aims at encouraging people all over Europe not to let Covid-19 stop them from tackling cancer. This October I therefore encourage all women to seek access to regular screening services available for breast cancer. In this regard, I would like to commend the work being done in relation to the success of the Maltese preventative breast screening outreach programme which is aimed at ensuring that more women keep up their regular screening appointments and also in relation to the breast cancer screening participation rate which now amounts to 88%. Even small individual efforts can make a big difference with regard to prevention services. So let us take this month as an opportunity to remind each other to put our health at the centre of our priorities and seek treatment and screening services regularly.

MEP Cyrus Engerer


MaltaToday

My EP Work

Dashing from one meeting to another, to debating groundbreaking legislation with colleagues, stopping to give interviews to the media, or drafting resolutions - there are truly no two days which are identical at the European Parliament. However, our goal remains constant: to work for a stronger Europe which is just and equal, a Europe which we all are proud to call our home.

In the Press

As we start the month of October, many of us will be invited to a number of pink themed events and activities seeking to raise awareness in relation to breast cancer and the importance of early detection through screening. This has been an annual campaign which has proved to be very effective in strengthening global awareness about the importance of the preventive aspect in the fight against breast cancer. The momentum which has been built by this annual campaign has also spilled over to other types of cancer which are a step behind in relation to the availability of screening services and the general awareness on the importance of early detection. As we know, 40% of cancer cases are preventable and therefore the importance of investing efforts in effective cancer prevention strategies cannot be stressed enough. The challenges faced by cancer patients all over the world during the past two years should drive us to be even more forceful in our efforts to campaign for this cause during this month. COVID-19 has had a significant impact not only on its victims but also on other patients seeking other health services including cancer patients seeking access to care and screening services. We know that in the very first year of the pandemic, clinicians all over Europe saw 1.5million less cancer patients when compared to the business as usual situation. In Europe, we have seen a situation whereby 100 million screening tests were not performed for reasons relating to the pandemic. We are facing a reality in which 1 in 2 cancer patients in Europe did not receive the surgical or chemotherapy treatment they required in view of the pressure which the pandemic has put on hospital services and patient’s hesitance to access these services for fear of being exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reactivation of screening programmes and cancer services all across Europe and beyond is therefore crucial to reverse the damage that has been caused during these two years. It is also important for Governments to invest in campaigns which help restore people’s trust in the safety and necessity of these programmes and services. This is one of the priorities which I’m focusing on in my work as the Maltese Member of the European Parliament sitting on the Special Committee Beating Cancer. For this reason, together with the EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides and President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca as Chair for the Emanuele Cancer Research Foundation Malta, I have joined the Time to Act campaign. This is a campaign which is being coordinated by the European Cancer Organization and which aims at encouraging people all over Europe not to let Covid-19 stop them from tackling cancer. This October I therefore encourage all women to seek access to regular screening services available for breast cancer. In this regard, I would like to commend the work being done in relation to the success of the Maltese preventative breast screening outreach programme which is aimed at ensuring that more women keep up their regular screening appointments and also in relation to the breast cancer screening participation rate which now amounts to 88%. Even small individual efforts can make a big difference with regard to prevention services. So let us take this month as an opportunity to remind each other to put our health at the centre of our priorities and seek treatment and screening services regularly.

MEP Cyrus Engerer


MaltaToday

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My EP Work

Dashing from one meeting to another, to debating groundbreaking legislation with colleagues, stopping to give interviews to the media, or drafting resolutions - there are truly no two days which are identical at the European Parliament. However, our goal remains constant: to work for a stronger Europe which is just and equal, a Europe which we all are proud to call our home.