Inequalities Network

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Why a Network on Inequalities?

Levels of health inequality between countries and regions with respect to cancer prevention, control, access to treatment and survival can no longer be ignored. Inequalities also occur within countries, between regions, and between social groups.

The inequalities that can arise with respect to marginalised and vulnerable groups should not be overlooked either. As just one example for illustrative purposes, studies have found that migrant populations have greater difficulty navigating unfamiliar healthcare systems, are less likely to participate in screening programmes and may also find themselves denied cancer treatment.

Driven by a common desire to achieve urgent actions to address these problems, the Network on Inequalities, led by Co-Chairs Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti and Sarah Collen, is shining a spotlight on the readily available policy mechanisms to bridge gaps and raise standards and outcomes in cancer care across all of Europe, for all groups in society.

A strong alignment in this work is made with the European Code of Cancer Practice and its aspiration to ensure every cancer patient in Europe has their rights to quality treatment and care upheld, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status or geographic location.

With the personal commitment of EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides to combatting inequalities in cancer care, the time is now to make progress!

Our Inequalities Network dedicates itself to driving consensus, presenting policy recommendations and solutions, and sharing best practices in relation to the inequalities and challenges associated to:  

  • The East-West Divide 
  • Gender 
  • Ethnicity 
  • Age 
  • Sexuality and Identity 
  • Health Literacy and Patient Education 
  • Other Marginalised Groups 

Cancer Inequalities Registry 

The EU4Health Work Programme 2021 has indicated that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be tasked to establish the Cancer Inequalities Register to map disparities and inequalities between Member States and regions. Our Network has been developing further communication with the Health Section of the OECD in respect to the Cancer Inequalities Registry, including relating to the most recent deliberations from the Network about the Registry, and priority parameters. In October 2021, the Network organised a meeting with the OECD to further discuss the Cancer Inequalities Registry. The meeting provided insightful views on the parameters of the Cancer Inequalities Registry and how the Registry will reflect various inequalities in cancer care related to gender, ethnicity, sexuality and other statuses.  

ASCO-ECO Joint Virtual Meeting on Inequalities in Cancer Care 

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The European Cancer Organisation joined forces with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in organising a virtual meeting on inequalities in cancer care. Our President, Matti Aapro, and Everett E. Vokes, President of ASCO, co-chaired a meeting that led to a great and engaging discussion on the inequalities in cancer care across the United States and Europe. The international exchange provided a better understanding of various challenges relating to socio-economics and race inequalities from both perspectives. 

You can watch the meeting video here

Leave No One Behind: Advancing Health Equity in Cancer Care

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Panel discussion at European Cancer Summit 2021 session "Leave No One Behind: Advancing Health Equity in Cancer Care".

The Cancer Inequalities will aim to identify trends,  disparities  and  inequalities  between  Member  States  and  regions.  Alongside regular  qualitative  assessments  of  the  country-specific  situation,  the  Registry  will  identify challenges and specific areas of action to guide investment and interventions at EU, national and regional level under Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.  

Nicolo Matteo Luca Battisti and Hendrik Van Poppel (past Inequalities Network Co-Chair), led an interactive discussion on measurement of all the various inequalities that currently exist, indicating potential missing aspects of cancer inequalities.  

Expert speakers from around the globe contributed to this lively Summit session’s discussion.  

Bishal Gyawali, Medical Oncologist & Scientist and Assistant Professor of Public health Sciences at the Queen’s University Cancer Research Institute, indicated that ensuring access to cancer treatments that have already been proven to work is more important than innovating new cancer therapies for global oncology. 

Nicolae Stefanuta MEP, Co-ordinator, Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) Cancer added that it is not acceptable that inequalities across Europe are creating second-class European citizens.

"It is a matter of European unity to do better!"

Teodora Kolarova, Member of the ECO Patient Advisory Committee, believes that all patients deserve trained healthcare professionals and well-maintained infrastructures. 

Guillaume Dedet, Health Economist and Policy Analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), confirmed that the Cancer Inequalities Registry will provide a cancer data tool, country cancer profiles and an overall report on the state of cancer prevention and care. 

You can read the key recommendations in the European Cancer Summit 2021 Declaration here.

  • Read the European Cancer Summit 2021 Report here.
  • Watch the session recordings and access valuable resources here.

Other Network Related Resources 

The Action Report “It Can Be Done – Beating Inequalities in Cancer Care” was produced spotlighting inequity that exists in all parts of cancer care, in all countries. 

Key points of advice for national health systems include: 

  • Enshrining the ten key rights of cancer patients set out in the European Code of Cancer Practice as a core tool and paradigm for delivering equitable cancer care 
  • Ensuring wide access to reliable data to better identify national cancer control priorities and the accompanying development of cancer policies that truly reflect the local context 
  • From this, fully implementing data-driven national cancer control plans (NCCP) in all countries 
  • Treating each cancer patient as an individual, not a simple representative of an age category. Cancer care must take individual account of the patient’s health status, associated comorbidities and socioeconomic situation 
  • All national cancer plans should include dedicated attention to the needs of older cancer patients 
  • Deploying standardised treatment pathways to ensure all cancer patients receive quality care along the patient pathway 

View the video recording of the meeting and the presentation slides here.


The organisations involved in the Inequalities Network have kindly provided relevant links to their work in this Network which can be accessed under “Related Resources” on the right-hand side of this page.

To find out more about this Network, or support our work, please contact us here.

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