As the incidence of cancer increases, health systems must find effective and sustainable ways to care for all cancer patients. Radiotherapy is a key part of this.


The incidence of cancer is increasing, and the growing demand for high-quality cancer care poses a major challenge to healthcare systems. One critical component of cancer care is too often left on the sidelines: radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy is a safe and highly effective cancer treatment, which allows specialists to precisely target and destroy tumour cells. It can be used on its own, or to complement or enhance the effects of other treatments such as surgery. There is evidence that 40% of all cancers cured are eliminated by radiotherapy.

Despite this, misconceptions about radiotherapy prevail and it remains underused across Europe. It is recommended as part of treatment for more than half of all cancer patients, yet at least a quarter of those who need radiotherapy don’t receive it. There is an urgent need to address this gap in usage and improve access to radiotherapy.

If, by 2035, every cancer patient who needs radiotherapy receives it, almost 1 million more lives will be saved around the world every year.

What we’ve achieved

The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) and the ESTRO Cancer Foundation (ECF) commissioned HPP to research, coordinate and draft a white paper on the importance of radiotherapy as a key aspect of cancer care. HPP assembled an expert group to author the white paper, which was launched on 7 November 2018 as part of ESTRO and ECF’s Marie Curie Legacy Campaign.

The white paper includes a five-point plan detailing the measures required to ensure radiotherapy is positioned appropriately within cancer care policies and plans. It was well received and gained news coverage from publications including Radiotherapy and OncologyeCancerPhysics World and Open Access Government.

On 31 January 2019, HPP organised a policy forum at the European Parliament at which the five-point plan was presented and discussed with key stakeholders. Ahead of the event, the campaign gained coverage in the journal Cancer Nursing Practice, which is published by RCNi, the publishing division of the UK’s Royal College of Nursing. The policy forum was hosted by Lieve Wierinck MEP and speakers included healthcare specialists from across Europe. Delegates were among the first to see the animation which HPP developed for the Marie Curie Legacy Campaign, which was officially launched the following week on World Cancer Day (4 February 2019).

Key partners and stakeholders


  • Joanna Kaźmierska, Doctor of Radiation Oncology, Greater Poland Cancer Centre, Poznań, Poland
  • Núria Jornet Sala, Medical Physics Senior Consultant, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain
  • Michelle Leech, Professor of Radiation Therapy, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Barbara Alicja Jereczek-Fossa, Chair, Department of Radiotherapy, European Institute of Oncology, Milan; Professor of Radiation Oncology, University of Milan, Italy
  • Yolande Lievens, Chair, Radiation Oncology Department, Ghent University Hospital; Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology, Ghent University; Past-President, European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, Belgium
  • John Yarnold, Professor of Radiation Oncology, Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK

Project funding

The project was commissioned and funded by the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO). It was part of the Marie Curie Legacy Campaign, an initiative of ESTRO and the ESTRO Cancer Foundation.