The European Code of Cancer Practice

Mark Lawler, Kathy Oliver, Stefan Gijssels, Matti Aapro, Agnese Abolina, Tit Albreht, Sema Erdem, Jan Geissler, Jacek Jassem, Sakari Karjalainen, Carlo La Vecchia, Yolande Lievens, Françoise Meunier, Mike Morrissey, Peter Naredi, Simon Oberst, Philip Poortmans, Richard Price, Richard Sullivan, Galina VelikovaEduard Vrdoljak, Nils Wilking, Wendy Yared, Peter Selby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


There are considerable disparities between the quality of cancer care and clinical outcomes for cancer patients in different European countries, regions, hospitals and communities. These have persisted despite the introduction of many European and National Cancer Plans, an extensive portfolio of clinical guidelines and the existence of evidence based guidelines for the good practice in planning cancer healthcare systems. We describe the European Code of Cancer Practice which is a citizen and patient-centred accessible widely disseminated statement of the core requirements for good clinical cancer practice. The Code sets out 10 key overarching Rights of what a patient should expect from their healthcare system each supported by a plain language explanation. The Rights highlight the importance of equal access to affordable and optimal cancer care, good quality information about an individual patient's disease and treatment and about the quality and outcomes of the cancer service they will use. Specialised multidisciplinary cancer care teams, shared decision-making, research and innovation, a focus on quality of life, the integration of supportive and palliative care within oncology are all emphasised. There is a need for a systematic approach to supporting cancer survivors with a survivorship care plan including their rehabilitation, reintegration into society and return to work where appropriate without discrimination. The Code has been co-produced by a team of cancer patients, patient advocates and cancer professionals to bridge the gap between clinical guidelines, healthcare policies and patients’ everyday experience. It is robustly evidence-based and supported by a comprehensive review of the medical literature and evidence for good clinical practice. The Code is strongly endorsed by Europe's professional and patient cancer organisations and the European Commission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100282
JournalJournal of Cancer Policy
Early online date19 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to all of the patients, patient advocates and healthcare colleagues who have stimulated us to persevere with the production of the European Code of Cancer Practice. We are particularly grateful to the late Professor Patrick Johnston who did so much to initiate and sustain this work. The original suggestion that a European Code of Cancer Practice should be prepared as a succinct way of conveying the key requirements of good clinical cancer practice grew from the work of the European Cancer Concord and the Patient Advisory Committee of the European Cancer Organisation. The support of the European Cancer Organisation, its member organisations and staff has been critical to the success of the project. We are particularly grateful to Professor Ian Banks, long term chair of the Patient Advisory Committee and Vice President of the European Cancer Concord and a tireless advocate for the rights of cancer patients. Without his wisdom, energy and commitment this work would not have happened. We have drawn heavily on Problem Solving in Patient-Centred and Integrated Cancer Care and the related series prepared by the Association of Cancer Physicians and published by EBN Health and we are grateful to the publisher, Duncan Enright, for his permission to use their copyright and to reproduce figures and text from the book. We have also drawn heavily on the work of the Swedish Institute for Health Economics and we are grateful to them for permission to reproduce numerous figures and analyses from their Comparator Report on Cancer in Europe, 2019. The EU Joint Actions against Cancer (EPAAC and CanCon) have been powerful influences and resources for this paper. We are most grateful to Nicole Goldman who has so carefully and conscientiously prepared the text of the Code and its supporting Medical Literature and Evidence paper and this manuscript. The work was supported by a generous gift from Sir Ken Morrison.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • Cancer
  • European code
  • Good practice
  • Patients’ rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Health Policy


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