In June 2020, in parallel with the European Commission’s flagship Beating Cancer plan, the European Parliament voted to set up a special advisory committee on Beating Cancer. This ‘BECA-committee’ was to focus on legislation to support research, prevention and equal access to cancer treatment.
A joint and sustained effort of ENHA and a widening group of partners and stakeholders has resulted in key aspects of nutritional care being included in the report:
- 78b. Underlines that the results of cancer treatment can be hampered by malnutrition, therefore optimal nutritional care is essential for cancer care; calls on Member States to develop recommendations for incorporating clinical nutrition into all aspects of cancer, including treatment, support and research; considers that, wherever indicated, cancer patients must be provided with clinical nutritional support by a dietitian specialist to be included into the multidisciplinary team (MDT); welcomes, therefore, the planned inter-speciality training on nutrition support and calls on the Commission and Member States to develop minimum standards for continuous training on nutritional care for the multidisciplinary workforce; recommends that nutrition management be an integral ethical part of all clinical research involving cancer patients; recommends, furthermore, that proper nutritional support be included into the cancer patients’ Charter of Rights;
- 48. Calls on the Commission to promote, and on Member States to strengthen, the role of general practitioners, paediatricians, nurses, primary care professionals and specialist physicians, given their importance in patient referral to diagnostic tests and oncology specialists, as well as the role of specialised nutritionists or dieticians, psychologists and rehabilitation specialists during cancer treatment and follow-up care, in order to ensure access to the right treatment and care at the right time via an optimal care pathway; calls for the development of multidisciplinary teams (MDT) to manage cancer patients throughout their treatment journey, and multidisciplinary decisionmaking in the framework of dedicated cross-discipline concertation meetings bringing together various cancer specialists and primary care professionals; underlines the importance of a constant training for health professionals to keep them updated on new cancer treatment options; calls for the role of a treatment coordinator to be made more widespread in order to ensure that patients receive appropriate coordination, to give them easy access to updated information related to cancer diagnosis and advice on how to use the health system;
December 9th, after a series of expert hearings and consultations, the BECA Committee adopted its final report, ‘Strengthening Europe in the fight against cancer’, which will be sent to the plenary of the European Parliament for a final vote expected February 2022. The report is expected to influence the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer plan substantially.
“I promise that my staff will now look carefully and analyse [the BECA report] to see how we can implement the different ideas. - The Parliament Magazine”
ENHA and partners will remain fully engaged and sharply focused on opportunities to secure nutritional care in all EU Health policies and programmes. ENHA’s next joint project, the leadership of the thematic network on Integrated Nutrition Cancer Care for the Commission’s health policy platform, is a case in point.