The EUROMED CANCER network: state-of-art of cancer screening programmes in non-EU Mediterranean countries

Background: The EUROMED CANCER Network project aims to support non-EU Mediterranean countries in the development of cancer early detection and screening policies. Methods: Through a structured questionnaire information from 15 countries (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestinian National Authority, Serbia, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey) were collected on cancer epidemiology and control. Results: Large differences between countries are evident. Breast cancer (BC) is the commonest cancer among women, though the incidence rate is much lower in non-EU than in EU Mediterranean countries. Conversely, cervical cancer (CC) is much more common in the former than in the latter countries. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is more frequent in Northern than in Eastern and Southern Mediterranean shores. Population-based cancer registries are available in few countries but most of them lack information on disease staging. Opportunistic screening for CC and BC is unevenly spread across and within countries; organised screening programmes are rare and do not meet international recommendations. BC and CC early detection is extensively considered a priority, while a few countries included CRC into their agenda. Conclusions: Collected data witnesses inadequacy of health information system and, in general, of the strategies for cancer control in the involved countries. A uniform approach for strengthening cancer control is not realistic neither feasible. Tailored preventive actions for cancer early detection have to be started concurrently with the development of a reliable health information system and, specifically, with cancer registration.