Today's publication provides the first ever set of uniform guidelines on all the steps necessary for effective population based colorectal cancer screening in the EU. By implementing them, Member States have the potential to organise their health systems more effectively, including the diagnosis and management of cancers detected in screening. There is good evidence that population-based screening using the EU-recommended test reduces mortality from colorectal cancer by around 15% in people of appropriate age (50 to 74 years) invited to attend screening.
The guidelines, coordinated for the Commission by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (www.iarc.fr), were developed with the input of over 90 experts from 32 countries, and set a benchmark for best practice in colorectal cancer screening. Widespread application of the Guidelines should also make it easier for experts in the field to exchange information and experience across the EU. This is essential for innovation and continuous quality improvement of existing cancer screening programmes.