European Cancer Organisation

NEWS: Quality in cancer care: making it a European habit

By Philip Poortmans ‒ ECCO President (2018/2019) and Head of the Department of Oncological Radiotherapy at Institut Curie, Paris
Aristotle said, “quality is not an act, it is a habit”. On becoming President of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO), I think of this advice when considering how to deliver ECCO’s mission: improving outcomes for cancer patients through multidisciplinarity.
The ECCO mission is expressed well via the Essential Requirements for Quality Cancer Care. These new charters for improvement, created for specific tumour types, set out in clear terms the checklist elements required to be in place to achieve quality cancer care, including:
  • membership and role definitions within the core and extended multi-disciplinary team;
  • organisation of the cancer patient pathway;
  • timelines for care and interventions;
    quality assurance processes; and,
  • articulation of rehabilitation and survivorship needs.
Covering the entire patient journey, they speak to the reason why ECCO was established: to be the place where professions and others involved in cancer care (not least the patients themselves), can meet to discuss, agree and advocate for the changes required to improve cancer care in Europe.
So remembering Aristotle’s words, we need to recall that the act of agreeing what quality cancer care means does not represent its achievement. That is represented by what healthcare systems do on a daily basis – as habit.
For quality cancer care to become a habit, change must be promoted. Specifically, we need to:
  • ensure understanding by all involved in delivering cancer care as to what quality cancer care is made up of, and
  • measure more effectively how healthcare systems are performing when it comes to quality cancer care.
So while ECCO, its members, and its Patient Advisory Committee will continue to articulate new Essential Requirements documents (this year, for melanoma, oesophageal-gastric cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer), we will also be launching a new communication action, ‘Quality Cancer Care Week’ (5th–11th March 2018), to increase public understanding of the topic.
Additionally, we invite you to join us at the ECCO 2018 European Cancer Summit (7th–9th September) in Vienna, to contribute to the formation of consensus resolutions on how quality cancer care should be achieved.
More than two millennia after Aristotle, management scientist William Demming recommended, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”. Indeed it is.
Therefore, I hope Cancer World readers will join us in spreading the messages of Quality Cancer Care Week and help us to create a united plan in Vienna for how to make quality cancer care a true European habit.
To find out more about Quality Cancer Care Week and the European Cancer Summit please go to
The ECCO Essential Requirements for Quality Cancer Care manuscripts were published in Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology and are freely available here.


Article published in Cancer World (Spring 2018 edition)


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