Cancer literacy - Informing patients and implementing shared decision making

Guy Buyens, Michael van Balken, Kathy Oliver, Richard Price, Enea Venegoni, Mark Lawler, Nicolò Matteo Luca Battisti, Hendrik Van Poppel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In order to tailor treatment to their needs, cancer patients are encouraged to be more active and engaged in their care decisions and to be autonomous yet collaborative with their healthcare professionals when it comes to aspects of their treatment in order to get better results. However, this can only happen after providing them with accurate information about cancer and the different treatment alternatives and their potential side effects. However, sharing robust data-based information is often hindered by exposure to misleading information through different media and online platform, where patients might come across unscientifically founded health practices. Increasing health literacy and cancer-specific literacy is essential to fight this negative trend. The idea is that more knowledgeable patients will be able to debunk more easily misinformation they encounter. This is also related to inequalities among cancer patients. Not only levels of cancer literacy within Europe are uneven across and within countries, but there are social groups that, due to specific social determinants, are systematically less informed and skilled regarding cancer care. In this paper an overview of gaps in addressing literacy issues, and the importance of health literacy to empower patients in their journey through treatment is delineated, concluding with some recommendations to improve cancer literacy in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100375
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Policy
Early online date08 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • Health literacy
  • Health information
  • Cancer patient
  • Cancer
  • Shared decision making
  • Health behaviour


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