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Colocteral cancer management and prevention policies in Greece

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Despite lower cancer mortality rates in Greece compared to other European countries, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most important cause of cancer mortality. Given the significant economic and societal impact of CRC in Greece, this paper focuses on CRC data resources, disease management and the existing prevention policies. Numerous initiatives have taken place for the collection of data and the creation of cancer registries, however, they currently remain incomplete. Despite universal access of the Greek population to health services provision, structural problems of the national health system have imposed organisational barriers to the geographical distribution of health resources. National invitational CRC screening programmes focusing on early detection of the disease as well as guidelines for its management are missing. All novel cancer treatments are fully reimbursed. Post-treatment surveillance guidelines for high-risk patients are very limited and depend solely on health providers’ decisions. A National Cancer Plan (NCP) had been announced during the 2008–2012, but is still in the planning phases. Under the proposed NCP, the longevity of cancer data collection seems to be the critical step in monitoring and improving the performance of the health system. Detailed epidemiological data will give the possibility of constructing an effective prevention policy, will reduce socio-economic inequalities in the access to CRC treatment and lighten the differences observed in health outcomes. The full implementation of the NCP constitutes the most significant investment in cancer management that has ever taken place in Greece.

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