Surviving cancer in Europe

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Satu Lipponen, Director of Communications and Foresight at the Cancer Society of Finland sheds light on the Joint Action Cancon and its role in guiding the way forward for quality cancer care…

What if cancer experts decided to work together and find answers to current policy problems? How to improve quality of life of cancer patients? How to secure quality care? What does survivorship mean in practice?

This has actually happened. Up to February 2017 the Cancon Joint Action will be working on these themes. The result will be the European Guide on Quality Improvement in Comprehensive Cancer Control.

The Guide is in its final phases. Special policy papers are prepared for decision makers. Europe needs effective cancer control, and this can happen only via concerted action.

Guide – why and how?

There is one Work Package in Cancon dedicated to the Guide coordination itself. The Guide is the single most important outcome of the project. The guide will be a coherent, patient-centred document, and key strategic tool for governments and policy makers.

The core chapters of the Guide are integrated cancer control, community-based post-oncological care, cancer survivorship and rehabilitation – from treatment to recovery and beyond – and population-based screening programmes.

The Guide will be in editing phase, compiled, in September 2016 and as a printed book in February 2017, when the final Joint Action conference is in Malta. It will be distributed in many channels, as digital versions, as research papers and as executive summaries, and also available online. In the last months of the Joint Action, the consortium puts much energy into getting it available in all member countries of the European Union. The Guide is directed at governments, parliamentarians, health care providers and funders and cancer care professionals at every level.

Dozens of organisations working together

The overall coordination of this EU Joint Action is in Slovenia, at the Public Health Institute in Ljubljana. There are 65 organisations involved in Cancon and 25 countries, of which 23 are EU member states.

In addition to the Guide, there will be special policy papers, which help governments to implement recommendations. Policy papers are coordinated by the Italian Ministry of Health. Altogether 5 policy papers are being prepared currently. Their topics range from cancer genomics to health inequalities, national cancer control plans, prevention and re-allocation of resources for effective management.

What do patients need?

At the centre of this action is the cancer patient. Early diagnosis is essential for getting the best treatments. Cancer Society of Finland coordinates cancer screening, and looks at population-based programmes. Their implementation varies a lot in Europe. INCA, the French National Cancer Institute is in charge of survivorship and rehabilitation. As cancer patients survive their disease, quality of life becomes more important than before – the question is not how long but how well.

Cancon Joint Action supports full transparency. Easiest way to follow is to register to receive a bi-monthly CanCon newsletter from

Satu Lipponen

Director – Communications and Foresight

Cancer Society of Finland


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