Using the body’s own immune system to fight disease, immuno-oncology has transformed the prognosis for many types of cancer. 


Europe is experiencing an unprecedented cancer epidemic. Despite progress made in prevention, screening and treatment, finding a cure for cancer remains an elusive goal.  

But the introduction over the past few years of treatments that use the body’s immune system to fight cancer have fuelled hope that long-term, quality survival may now be possible for patients with many forms of advanced cancer. 

Immuno-oncology (or immunotherapy) is a family of treatments that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Progress in immunotherapy in recent years has transformed the prognosis for many types of cancer, where patients previously would have had very little hope of survival. 

Immuno-oncology therapies enable the immune system to selectively recognise and attack cancer cells, and to ‘remember’ how to do this. Immuno-oncology has the potential to work against many types of cancer. 

Download project output

Immuno-Oncology patients leaflet
Immuno-Oncology policy action framework

Immuno-oncology activates the patient’s own immune response to fight cancer

Immuno-oncology therapies selectively recognise and target cancer cells, not healthy cells

Immuno-oncology gives long-lasting memory to the immune system, so that it can continually adapt to the cancer over time 

What we achieved

In 2014, we acted as secretariat to the European Expert Group on Immuno-Oncology, an independent network of patients, clinicians, politicians and industry. The group – co-chaired by the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) and a Member of the European Parliament – aimed to help ensure cancer patients across Europe have rapid access to immuno-oncology therapies.

This work led to the publication of a Policy Action Framework, which provides concrete proposals on how policymakers across Europe may help to improve patient access to immuno-oncology therapies. It has served as the starting point for policy round tables in several countries.

We also worked with ECPC to develop resources for patients, including a patient guide and the first European patient information portal on immuno-oncology and cancer immunotherapy:

The patient guide has been translated into 24 languages and disseminated via the ECPC member associations. The Immuno Oncology Portal has been widely used and updated recently by ECPC, and also translated into other languages.

Key partners and stakeholders

  • European Cancer Patient Coalition 
  • Association for Cancer Immunotherapy 
  • European Society for Medical Oncology 

  • Lung Cancer Europe
  • Royal Marsden Hospital
  • Let’s Win Foundation Poland

The report was endorsed by:

The development of the Policy Action Framework was initiated and funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The development of the patient guide and Immuno Oncology Portal were supported by ECPC.