Free from Cancer: Achieving Quality of Life for All Cancer Patients and Survivors

19 November 2020

With Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan under development, the Survivorship and Quality of Life Network of the European Cancer Organisation has collated its recommendations to help more cancer patients and survivors achieve a life truly free from cancer and its often under-appreciated impacts.

Launched today at the European Cancer Summit 2020, the 7 priority areas suggested in Free from Cancer are:  

  1. Take action on cancer distress
  2. Elevate management of pain and other symptoms: core parts of the cancer patient pathway
  3. Cancer patients and survivors have sex lives too. Recognise sexuality in health system approaches.
  4. Cancer comorbidities and complications: An ever-growing challenge in need of additional focus
  5. Empower cancer patients and survivors. The importance of education and information.
  6. Provide cancer patients and survivors with the right to reintegration into the workplace
  7. Ensure cancer survivors have a right for their cancer to be forgotten by financial service providers

Specific measures and actions recommended by the experts in the consensus publication include:

  • Embedding Survivorship Care Planning into every cancer patient’s pathway of care
  • Establishing a European survivorship professional certification to increase awareness and education of all oncology professionals on issues such as pyscho-oncology, pain management, co-morbidity and sexual medicine
  • Including pain as core health indicator at national and European level
  • Providing the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA) with fresh mandate and instructions to improve workplace rights for cancer patients, survivors and their carers
  • Establishing in all European countries a “Right to be Forgotten” for cancer survivors in respect to financial service provision


Speaking at the publication launch, Dr Matti Aapro, President of the European Cancer Organisation said:

“Working with cancer patients every day is a daily reminder of their individuality. The patient centred approach we call for in Free from Cancer is crucial. It is what helps us to treat the patient rather than the disease. It is about seeing and taking account of the whole picture. It is about having open discussion about personal priorities and circumstances and serving needs beyond only the medical. But we need the right structures in place to make this kind of care daily reality in all places. The seven priorities for action in our paper provide a good compass to the EU and Governments to prepare for a future of ever growing cancer survivorship.”


Dr Csaba L. Dégi, Director at the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) and Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Survivorship and Quality of Life Network, said:

“Feelings of vulnerability, sadness, depression, anxiety, panic, isolation, spiritual crisis. These sources of great distress are experienced by far too many cancer patients. Yet if we only put in place better structures for psycho-oncology support we might free enormous numbers of cancer patients and survivors from this burden. Our report Free from Cancer gives practical and realistic suggestions to help every country get better at treating all of the cancer patient. Its time we added life to years, as well as years to life.”


Dr Andrew Davies, President of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) and Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s Survivorship and Quality of Life Network, said:

“This week’s European Cancer Summit has focused on the theme of breaking down barriers. All across Europe we need to break down the barriers that prevent cancer patients benefiting from a truly patient-centred approach to their care and treatment. Cancer distress, pain management, sexual medicine, attention to co-morbidities, recognising rights to rehabilitation and reintegration. All these and more must now be high on the agenda of all cancer policy decision-makers, at national and European level.”


Free from Cancer: Achieving Quality of Life for All Cancer Patients and Survivors