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The Cancer Society of Finland is one of the country’s largest public health and patient organisations. The CSF has 18 member organisations, twelve of which are regional cancer associations, and six are national patient organisations. The total number of members at the end of 2018 was 117 953 (119 607 in 2017).

Regional cancer associations

The regional cancer associations ( cover the whole country. In 2018, each association (with the exception of Åland) had at least one office where an oncology nurse provided advice. Peer support groups and individuals providing cancer patients and their loved ones advice comprise the core work of the member associations. Each association has an executive or managing director.

All regional cancer associations provided cancer counselling closely linked to psychosocial support for cancer patients and their loved ones. In addition, the Cancer Society of South-West Finland has a hospice and provides intensive sheltered housing, and the Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa has a clinic and a laboratory.

All regional cancer associations provide services in support of rehabilitation. The majority of the regional associations arranged adaptation training, coordinated by the CSF and supported by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health with discretionary government grants paid from proceeds of Veikkaus, the national gaming company. Some member associations also organised rehabilitation activities funded by the Social Insurance Institution or hospital districts. Associations also supported cancer patients financially by paying treatment allowances or assistance.

Some regional member associations supported scientific research in their own area with various grants.

National patient organisations

The national patient organisations ( operate nationwide and work in cooperation with the regional cancer associations. The patient organisations provide prostate cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer patients with possibilities to receive peer support, participate in joint activities and get professional counselling. Some patient organisations also arrange adaptation training.

The Finnish Association of Children and Young People with Cancer (Sylva) supports families of children and young people with cancer in various ways. The Association of Cancer Patients in Finland is in charge of producing patient guides, for instance. In addition, all patient organisations produce publications to support their own objectives. In 2018, the Association of Cancer Patients in Finland had a total of 18 rare-cancer patient networks and a network for young adults with cancer. The Finnish Oral Cancer Association continued to run the Kyyrönkaita course centre in Mikkeli.

Local activity

Local activity plays an important part of the work of many CSF member associations. In geographically large areas, the local branches provide an interface between cancer patients, their loved ones and others in far-flung areas and the work of the CSF.

The member associations had some 180 local branches, clubs or patient networks. Most were those of the Cancer Society of North Finland.

Member organisations of the Cancer Society of Finland (with year established)


Name of organisation Members on 31 Dec 2018 (31 Dec 2017) Number of local branches or clubs
Cancer Society of South Finland (1965) 13 476 (13 854) 14
Cancer Society of Central Finland (1956) 4 847 (5 006) 4
Cancer Society of Kymenlaakso (1956) 2 856 (2 981) 5
Cancer Society of South-West Finland (1951) 28 023 (28 080) 12
Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa (1951) 19 612 (20 097)  
Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa (1956) 12 891 (12 789) 27
Cancer Society of North Karelia (1956) 3 019 (3 141) 12
Cancer Society of North Savo (1959) 4 192 (4 112) 20
Cancer Society of North Finland (1957) 6 946 (7 194) 35
Finnish Breast Cancer Association – Europa Donna Finland (2005) 1 241 (1 150)  
Cancer Society of Saimaa (1953) 6 819 (7 270) 10
Cancer Society of Satakunta (1974) 8 109 (8 162) 7
Cancer Society of Åland (1986) 893 (859)  
Colores – Finnish Colorectal Cancer Association (2007) 541 (534)
Propo Finnish Prostate Cancer Association (1997) 1 830 (1 803)  
Finnish Oral Cancer Association (1962) 900 (919) 10
Association of Cancer Patients in Finland (1971) 125 (125) 22 patient networks
Finnish Association of Children and Young People with Cancer, Sylva (1982) 1 633 (1 531)  


Organisation committee

The organisation committee is appointed by the Board of the CSF. Each member association has a representative on the committee, consecutively. In 2018, the chair of the organisation committee was Matti Väistö, member of the CSF Board and chair of the Cancer Society of North Karelia. The committee convened four times during the year, addressing issues such as the implementation of the organisation’s development plan and the key projects contained in the strategy.

Meetings of executive directors

The meetings of executive directors play an important role in harmonising and assuring the quality of the organisation’s service activities and in planning joint activities and projects. There were six meetings held during the year, one of which was a two-day meeting in Mustasaari, hosted by the Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa. The meetings were chaired by Kimmo Järvinen, executive director of the Finnish Prostate Cancer Association, and the organisation secretary acted as the secretary.

The meetings dealt with a number of issues: implementation of the strategy and the development plan; advocacy and election preparations; collaboration with health and social welfare organisations; establishment of and collaboration with FICAN, the national cancer centre; issues related to grants and financing by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations; the 2019 operational plan; the development of volunteer work and management training; fundraising; training; and rehabilitation. The external experts at the meetings included Vesa Kurikka and Anne Merjovaara (Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations) and Anne Knaapi (Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health).

The Swedish-language activities of the organisation were discussed at two separate meetings of executive directors. The member organisations taking part were the Cancer Society of South Finland, the Cancer Society of South-West Finland, the Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa, the Cancer Society of Åland and the Finnish Prostate Cancer Association. The Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa took responsibility for national coordination of Swedish-language activities in accordance with the development plan.

Election committee

The election committee appointed by the Board prepared the personnel selections made in December 2018 at the meeting of the CSF Council and the ordinary meeting of the CSF. The election committee was chaired by Executive Director Jenni Tamminen, representing the Finnish Colorectal Cancer Association.

Cancer Society of Finland’s development plan

In spring 2016, all CSF member associations committed themselves to implementing the development plan. The plan contains 20 recommendations, which have been implemented according to schedule. Work to implement the development plan continued in 2018. For example, the volunteering working group continued with systematic work to develop the organisation’s volunteering activities.

The extensive member services project that had started in 2017 also continued. The aim of the project is to introduce a joint system for member registers and client management. 2018 saw active work to develop, plan and implement the system. The first associations adopted the new system during the course of the year.

Cancer Society Days

The CSF’s annual Cancer Society Days were held in Espoo (hotel Korpilampi) on 19–20 January 2018. The event focused on, among others, topical themes related to our operating environment: the health and social services reform and the national cancer centre. Additional topics included cancer prevention and costs of cancer, volunteering, advocacy work and themes related to children and young people. The event was attended by approximately 100 people from all across Finland.

Training days for elected officials

The CSF’s training days for elected officials were held in Helsinki (Sokos Hotel Presidentti) on 12–13 October 2018. The aim of the training is to provide elected officials at member organisations with an opportunity to stay updated on the organisation’s activities and on changes affecting the operating environment. There were several topics discussed during the two days: access to and costs of cancer medicines and treatments, advocacy work, volunteering, and the collaboration between patient organisations, regional cancer associations and public healthcare providers. The event attracted about 60 participants.