The Nutrition and Physical Activity Awareness Month is celebrated every year in March. It is dedicated to increasing awareness on the importance of nutrition and physical activity for people with cancer.

We, at the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) have always focused our efforts on playing an active role in the promotion of well-being for people with cancer. In light of this, we have published our education booklet “Living Well During Cancer Treatment” on 1 June 2018. The patient guide, available in English and Romanian, studies the impact of nutrition and physical activity on cancer treatment and rehabilitation.

The management of nutrition and physical activity is becoming more important for people with cancer as survival and quality of life are increasing. They are crucial components of cancer treatment and rehabilitation as they help patients better cope with illness. However, given the focus on the cancer and its cure, nutrition and physical activity are often neglected. This leaves patients and their families with doubts, questions, and the need for practical guidance on how to eat better on a daily basis, especially during therapy.

To this end, join us in promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity Awareness Month!

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The Nutrition and Physical Activity Awareness Month is aligned with the American National Nutrition Month, a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Nutrition and Cancer

What questions are cancer patients asking? Although cancer patients and cancer survivors have diverse educational requests that include asking about cancer treatment options, the logistics of cancer therapy, prognosis, cancer risk, and the long-term complications of such treatment, a large proportion of recurrently voiced questions focuses on the more mundane and might be distilled down to the following: “What should I be eating?”

Recognising the need for educational resources, ESMO’s handbook on Nutrition and Cancer explores the relationship between nutrition and cancer and the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and cancer treatment. The handbook provides an important starting point to help healthcare providers – and ultimately patients – better understand the complex interactions between nutrition and cancer. Over time, we hope to further research which will provide more clarity on how best to advise, educate, and manager cancer patients and cancer survivors with diet and nutrition questions.

2011 “Nutrition and Cancer” Handbook (available in full to ESMO Members)

Rehabilition and Cancer

Cancer affects man’s well-being in many different ways. Physical activity is frequently reduced, and it can be mentally hard to deal with the new situation. The disease may undermine the employment process, raise financial issues, and affect personal relationships.

The ESMO Handbook of ‘Rehabilitation Issues During Cancer Treatment and Follow-Up’ deals with clinical topics such as pain, fatigue and gastrointestinal sequelae and also discusses other aspects such as social and financial issues and lifestyle changes.

The handbook is primarily intended to be read by physicians working in the field of medical oncology who will be able to assist in the continuous and complex process of rehabilitation of their patients whenever and wherever possible.

2014 “Rehabilitation During Cancer Treatment and Follow Up” Handbook (available in full to ESMO Members)

ECPC Scientific Paper on Nutrition

Nutrition is a crucial component of cancer treatment and rehabilitation as it helps patients better cope with illness. However, given the focus on the cancer and its cure, nutrition is often neglected, leaving patients and their families with doubts, questions and the need for practical guidance on how to eat better on a daily basis, especially during therapy.

Building up on a pilot survey, in 2016 the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) continued its efforts with a second round of the survey in order to have enough data and maximise the impact of the answers received. The new version was adapted in order to directly address individual cancer patients and cancer survivors. It aimed to describe and understand the perception of the importance of metabolic and nutritional problems among patients and cancer survivors. The study was conducted by a survey of cancer patients and survivors. A total 907 patients and survivors, distributed in 10 European countries (Finland, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Greece, Denmark, Slovenia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria) answered the questionnaire with results showing a substantial gap in terms of need for information and practical management of cancer-related nutritional problems for people with cancer.

2017 ECPC Scientific Paper on Nutrition and Physical Activity, published in the Annals of Oncology

ECPC Cancer Patients’ Bill of Rights

In 2017, medical professionals and researchers teamed up with patients to draft the Cancer Patients’ Bill of Rights. By enumerating ten crucial rights for cancer patients, the Bill aims at raising awareness on nutritional care in cancer. It is vital for patients and their family to realise their rights and needs related to nutrition.

1 – Right to correct information and nutritional counselling

2 – Right to nutritional screening and assessment

3 – Right to dietary prescriptions

4 – Right to oral nutritional supplements

5 – Right to appropriate and prompt artificial nutrition

6 – Right to appropriate and safe home artificial nutrition

7 - Right to nutritional support monitoring

8 - Right to treatment for overweight-related health problems during or after cancer treatment

9 - Right to psychological support

10 - Right to participate in clinical nutrition trials


2017 ECPC Cancer Patients’ Bill of Rights for appropriate and prompt nutritional support