Action grants to support accreditation and certification of quality assurance schemes for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer screening programmes






Dec 16 2021


Feb 17 2022




Cancer screening is necessary for disease risk reduction as it allows the detection of the disease at an early stage of invasiveness or even before the cancer becomes invasive. Screening therefore is an important tool in limiting morbidity and improving survival rates of those who have developed cancer.

In the Union, countries have adopted significant measures to deliver cancer screening services to their populations as recommended in the Council Recommendation of 2 December 2003 on cancer screening. Screening methodologies are subject to ongoing development and therefore the application of recommended screening approaches and methodologies should be accompanied by simultaneous assessments of the quality, applicability and cost-effectiveness of new methods.

Quality assurance at all levels of population-based screening programmes can only be ensured if good information about benefits and risks, adequate resources, follow-up with complementary diagnostic procedures and treatment of those with a positive screening test are available.

The report on the implementation of the Council Recommendation on cancer screening (2017) demonstrated barriers to access to screening services by the population and also to deliver quality-assured services. These barriers introduce serious inequities at the Union level and the delivery of quality-assured services in a population-based approach still has to be assessed and addressed through pragmatic public health initiatives in many countries.

This action supports the implementation of a Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan flagship initiative and implements the EU4Health Programme’s general objective of improving and fostering health in the Union (Article 3, point (a)) through the specific objectives defined in Article 4, points (a) and (j) of Regulation (EU) 2021/522.



Activities will include the organisation, implementation and running of accreditation and certification activities making use of guidelines for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer screening, diagnosis and care.



Activities will include the organisation, implementation and running of accreditation and certification activities making use of European guidelines addressing the entire pathway of breast cancer screening, through the use of the work developed by the European Commission Initiative on Breast Cancer (ECIBC). The mentioned activities will be implemented by the successful applicant/consortium of Breast Cancer Services (BCS), and Conformity Assessment Bodies accredited for the European Quality Assurance schemes.

Expected Impact:


The expected result is the implementation at national and/or regional level of accreditation and certification quality assurance schemes for the entire pathway of breast cancer screening, including diagnosis and care.

This action will improve the quality and performance of the entire pathway of population-based screening for breast cancer and is expected to pave the way to address cervical and colorectal cancers in subsequent open calls. The action furthermore aims to reduce the disparity among and within the Member States associated with an unequal access to quality-assured screening programmes.


The successful applicant(s) shall take into consideration the developed European Quality Assurance scheme for breast cancer and support the implementation of ECIBC, via accredited certification (ISO/IEC 17065).

During the second half of 2022 (July-September) a pilot accreditation certification run will be implemented in real settings to test the auditing mechanism of the European QA scheme for Breast Cancer Services with the aim to enhance its feasibility across the EU.

The activities of the successful applicant / consortium are expected to be as follows:

  • Preparatory phase (6 - 9 months) – Set-up the modus operandi of the project and its internal structure, and the rules to ensure the best coordinated approach of the project, including the protocols to run the future activities of accreditation/certification, which will be tested through the pilot run in the second phase of the project (e.g. ‘Proof of concept’ of the pilot). The activities will take advantage of the steering support provided by the Commission’s Knowledge Centre on Cancer. In particular the beneficiary(es) will define the entitiesand the Breast Cancer Services which will participate to the pilot phase, taking into consideration the need to include at least 30% services originating from underrepresented territorial/geographical areas, and/or those Breast Cancer Services which still do not have an accreditation certification process for the entire breast cancer care pathway. In addition, the beneficiary(es)should ensure, where possible, the participation in the pilot run of the Conformity Assessment Bodies.
  • Pilot Phase (after the first phase until the end of the project) – Organisation, coordination, implementation, monitoring and collection of outcomes, evaluation and proposal for improvement of the scheme piloted, to allow the feasibility and implementability of the accreditation certification in different EU settings, which will foster the subsequent roll-out of the final scheme.


Applicants must include data on the following indicators in their regular reporting activities in case of award, and must be prepared to include additional specific indicators where needed:

  • Number of Breast Cancer Centres, which will be part of the proposal’s consortium.
  • Number of EU/EEA Member States represented in the proposal’s consortium.
  • Number of Conformity Assessment Bodies in the proposal’s consortium.
  • Number of Breast Cancer Centres participating in the pilot.
  • Number of EU/EEA Member States participating in the pilot.
  • Number of Conformity Assessment Bodies participating in the pilot.
  • Number of Meetings done in the first phase.
  • Satisfaction rate of participants to the project.

Proposals to be awarded under this topic: One single proposal

Expected duration of project: Given the complexity of the activities to be funded under this topic, the recommended maximum duration of a project is 24 months where up to 9 months will be dedicated to the preparatory phase (see section 6 of the call document).