Cancer mortality rates in Cyprus are some of the lowest in the EU, though figures are on an upwards trajectory, experts said on Friday during the ‘Cyprus and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’ conference.

During the event, President Nikos Christodoulides said the government has made tackling cancer as one of its most important priorities and is working towards implementing a slew of action plans.

He added the health ministry is developing health policies focusing on prevention, addressing risk factors that can predispose cancer development, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, environmental and health-related factors, as well as genetic factors.

“We aim to educate children on the importance of adopting healthy choices…That is where our focus should be, particularly on prevention.”

Data from Cyprus’ cancer registry, collecting data since 1998, reveal cancer cases are increasing every year.

Mortality in Cyprus is among the lowest in the EU, noting that the leading causes of cancer mortality in men were lung cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, while in women it was breast cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

“If no decisive action is taken today, cancer cases are expected to increase by 24 per cent by 2035, making cancer the leading cause of death in the European Union,” experts said.

Christodoulides specified the government has been implementing the population-based screening programme for breast cancer detection for 20 years, noting that “mammography centres operate in all provinces of Cyprus, so that the entire population has access to them, while at the same time these centres have been upgraded in terms of infrastructure, equipment and staffing”.

In the near future, there will be screenings for colorectal cancer programs for the 50-74 age group, as well as prostate cancer for men aged 50-60, as well as cervical cancer for women.

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides presented the ‘Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan’ and detailed efforts to reduce cancer and mortality rates.

According to figures announced during the conference, 2.7 million people in the European Union were diagnosed with cancer in 2020, while another 1.3 million people died.

At the same time, the European Union predicts that one in two European citizens will develop a form of cancer in their lifetime, leading to long-term consequences on their quality of life.