Special Network: Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer

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Why a Special Network on the Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer?

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a dramatic impact on all areas of cancer control, including prevention and vaccination programmes, screening and early detection services, provision of all modalities of cancer treatment and care, including follow-up care for cancer survivors, and the conduct of cancer research and clinical trials. Such a challenge can only be addressed through collaboration of the entire cancer community. This led the Board of the European Cancer Organisation to launch a Special Network on the Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer, co-chaired by Board members Mirjam Crul and Mark Lawler

The Special Network brings together a wide range of stakeholders, from our Member SocietiesPatient Advisory Committee and Community 365, in order to:

  • Precisely delineate the challenges that Covid-19 has posed on cancer care
  • Amplify activities undertaken by the European Cancer Organisation’s community to address these challenges
  • Produce recommendations on the most critical and pressing issues


European Cancer Summit 2023 Session: Cancer Services in Crisis Situations

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Gathering Information on, and Drawing Attention to, the Challenge of the Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer

As an early collaborative response to the urgency, the Special Network collected and gathered resources and information related to cancer and Covid-19 from our Member Societies and other organisations. These include, among others, clinical guidelines, patient information, surveys, data repositories, scientific articles, leadership statements and calls for action. You can access this Cancer and Covid-19 Resources Library here.

In July 2020, our Past-President Matti Aapro and the Co-Chairs of the Special Network met with officials of the European Commission to discuss the information gathered by our Member Societies and Patient Advocacy Committee during the first wave and provide recommendations. The dramatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on all areas of cancer control and care was highlighted. Key identified policy needs included the importance of real-time data to drive decision-making and cancer service recovery, and the need to urgently address knowledge gaps on the parallel management of cancer and Covid-19.

A 7-Point Plan to Address the Urgency and Build Back Better

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In November 2020, the Special Network published a landmark new report combining its key recommendations: The Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer in Europe: ​The 7-Point Plan to Address the Urgency and ​Build Back Better. Compiled in consultation with the European Cancer Organisation’s community, in particular with participants in the Special Network on the Impact of Covid-19 on Cancer, the 7 priorities recommend to European and national decision-makers concrete actions to help ensure continued access of citizens to health systems for all cancer-related needs, combat medicines and health workforce shortages, and safeguard healthcare professionals safety at work. Find out more about the 7-Point Plan here.

European Cancer’s New Normal must deliver more resilient cancer systems that:

  1. Urgently address the cancer backlog
  2. Restore the confidence of European citizens and patients in cancer health services
  3. Tackle medicines, product and equipment shortages
  4. Address cancer workforce gaps across the European continent
  5. Employ innovative technologies and solutions to strengthen cancer systems and provide optimal care to cancer patients
  6. Embed data collection and the rapid deployment of cancer intelligence to enhance policy delivery
  7. Secure deeper long-term European health cooperation

Cancer must not become the Forgotten “C” in the Fight against Covid-19”

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