Implementing the European Code of Cancer Practice in rural settings

29 January 2024

Bridging the Gap: Prioritising Cancer Care in Europe's Rural Landscapes

“Despite equitable healthcare being a key European policy focus, the needs of rural people living with cancer have largely been neglected.” 

In the pursuit of equitable healthcare across Europe, a key aspect has often been overlooked—the challenges faced by individuals in rural areas living with cancer. In the first 2024 issue of the Journal of Cancer Policy, a new publication sheds light on the rights of European citizens residing in rural settings. Led by David Nelson from the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health, the article emphasises the imperative need to implement the European Code of Cancer Practice in these often-neglected regions. 

The publication highlights much evidence of disparities, revealing higher cancer incidence and mortality rates, delayed diagnoses, lower screening uptake, and diminished long-term survival rates among rural populations compared to their urban counterparts in Europe. Yet, much of the existing scientific literature exploring the impact of rurality on cancer originates from outside the continent. 

The authors delve into the fundamental rights outlined in the European Code of Cancer Practice to argue that: 

  • the issues and needs identified in The Code are generally more profound for rural people with cancer;
  • addressing these issues is also more challenging in rural contexts;
  • interventions and support must explicitly account for the unique needs of rural residents living with and affected by cancer and
  • new innovative approaches are urgently required to successfully overcome the challenges faced by rural people with cancer and their caregivers.

The publication provides a thought-provoking perspective on how the European Code of Cancer Practice can be a catalyst for positive change in these often-overlooked regions. 

You can access the full publication here

For further information about the European Code of Cancer Practice, reach out to 


*Full list of authors: David Nelson, Peter Selby, Ros Kane, Ava Harding-Bell, Amanda Kenny, Kathie McPeake, Samuel Cooke, Todd Hogue, Kathy Oliver, Mark Gussy, Mark Lawler