The European Cancer Organization recently launched the Code for Cancer Practice. The European Code of Cancer Practice (The Code) is a citizen and patient-centred accessible, widely disseminated statement of the core requirements for good clinical cancer practice, in order to improve outcomes for all of Europe’s cancer patients. It has been co-produced by a team of cancer professionals, cancer patients and patient advocates and it has its origins in the European Cancer Patient Bill of Rights, which was launched in the European Parliament on World Cancer Day 2014 and won the prestigious European Health Award in 2018.
The code focusses on informing and assisting cancer patients (paediatric, adolescent and adult) at all stages of their cancer journey and it sets out a series of 10 key overarching rights, and in particular signposts what patients should expect from their health system, in order for them to achieve the best possible outcomes.
The Code is a patient-centred initiative but is also of relevance to all European citizens, as early diagnosis when cancer is suspected underpins the timely delivery of the appropriate treatment. Timely and accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment are associated generally with a better chance of survival and improved quality-of-life in the short, medium and long term. Cancer prevention and screening are a vital and cost-effective part of any initiative to control many cancers and reduce the number of deaths from cancer across Europe. In fact, the European Code of Cancer Practice therefore complements the European Code Against Cancer.
In particular, the 10 key overarching rights of the Code include:
- Equal access: Equal access to affordable and optimal cancer care, including the right to a second opinion.
- Information: Information about your disease and treatment from your medical team and other reliable sources, including patient and professional organisations.
- Quality, expertise & outcome: Information about the quality and safety of care, the level of expertise and the outcomes achieved for your type of cancer in the centre where you are being treated.
- Specialised multidisciplinary care: Receive care from a specialised multidisciplinary team, ideally as part of a cancer care network.
- Shared decision-making: Participate in Shared Decision-Making with your healthcare team about all aspects of your treatment and care.
- Research & innovation: Be informed about ongoing research relevant to you, and your ability and eligibility to participate in research.
- Quality of life: Discuss with your healthcare team your priorities and preferences to achieve the best possible quality-of-life.
- Integrated supportive & palliative care: Receive optimal supportive and palliative care, as relevant, during any part of your cancer journey.
- Survivorship & rehabilitation: Receive and discuss with your care team a clear, managed and achievable plan for your survivorship and rehabilitation.
- Reintegration: Be fully reintegrated into society and protected from cancer-related stigma and discrimination, so that, in so far as is possible, you can return to work and a normal life.