Comprehensive cancer care networks – Test driving the model in southern Czechia

What does an ideal cancer service look like and how can countries/regions make that transformation? A European collaborative project, in which IBA FM MU was also involved [1], spent two years trying to answer this question. The solution they came up with is now being piloted in the Czech Republic, as Sophie Fessl from Cancerworld reports [2].

19 Mar 2019

“How do you reconcile providing cancer services near a patient’s home with ensuring they get the best possible care?” It’s the fundamental question that has been asked in every country and region where efforts have been made to reorganise fragmented cancer services into a coherent structure able to optimise the experience and outcomes of every patient.

Sweden, England, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain, are some of the countries that have gone a long way towards developing and implementing their own solutions, each applying a broadly similar set of principles, adapted to the culture and structure of their own health services.

Yet in the majority of countries, particularly in central and eastern Europe, efforts to improve the way cancer services are delivered have hardly begun. As a result, big improvements in standards of diagnosis and care over recent decades have often been limited to flagship national cancer centres, while the majority of patients are still being diagnosed and treated in facilities that lack the necessary mix of expertise, teamwork, and governance. This failure to raise standards across entire systems is hampering efforts to close the east–west survival gap.

As part of the CanCon Joint Action (2014–17), Lucio Luzzatto, a former director of the Tuscan Cancer Institute, in Italy, led a project on ‘comprehensive cancer care networks’, which sought to define the key elements of a networking model that could be implemented in any territory, to enable people to access the best and most comprehensive pathways for cancer care as near as possible to where they live, “through the synergy of all relevant institutions that have complementary expertise”.

The concept was broadly based on an approach developed and implemented across the Tuscan region, drawing also on the experience and expertise of collaborating partners from many European states including France, Germany, Ireland and Norway. But it was the involvement of the Czech Republic, which had less experience in restructuring cancer services than any of those countries, that arguably did most to ensure this project will have real relevance and impact in the countries that need it most.

The Czech participants, led by Ladislav Dušek, from the Masaryk University Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses, were so convinced by the idea that they decided not only to talk the talk but also walk the walk, by implementing such a comprehensive cancer care network as a ‘real-life, real-time example’ [3].

Read the full article in Cancerworld.


  1. Comprehensive Cancer Care Network – a pilot model
  2. Fessl, S. Comprehensive cancer care networks – Test driving the model in southern Czechia. Cancerworld 2019 Mar 17; No. 85, pp. 32–38.
  3. Balance between the centralisation and availability of cancer care: Institute of Biostatistics and Analyses develops the European model of a Comprehensive Cancer Care Network (, 4 May 2015)

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