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The CSF is one of Finland's largest public health and patient organisations. It has 18 member associations, of which 12 are regional cancer associations and six are national patient organisations.

Members and member associations

At the end of 2019, the total number of members was 113 830 (117 953 the previous year).

The total number of members has continued to decline. In connection with the development of the new customer relationship management system, an automatic member register address book update service was introduced in 2019. In connection with this, the information in the member registers of the 12 associations was updated, with a decrease in the total number of members.

The CSF still had a few individual members, but no new ones have been accepted for decades.

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

Name of organisation Members on 31 Dec 2019 (31 Dec 2017) Number of local branches or clubs
Cancer Society of Southern Finland(1965) 12 559 (13 476) 13
Cancer Society of Central Finland (1956) 4 749 (4 847) 4
Cancer Society of Kymenlaakso (1956) 2 743 (2 856) 5
Cancer Society of South-west Finland(1951) 27 334 (28 023) 7
Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa (1951) 18 543 (19 612)
Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa (1956) 12 405 (12 891) 29
Cancer Society of North Karelia (1956) 2 889 (3 019) 12
Cancer Society of North Savo (1959) 4 113 (4 192) 20
Cancer Society of North Finland (1957)  6 684 (6 946) 35
Finnish Breast Cancer Association – Europa Donna Finland ry (2005) 1 373 (1 241)
Cancer Society of Saimaa (1953) 6 451 (6 819) 10
Cancer Society of Satakunta (1974) 8 015 (8 109) 3
Cancer Society of Åland (1986) 908 (893)
Finnish Colorectal Cancer Association, Colores (2007) 611 (541)
Finnish Prostate Cancer Association, Propo (1997) 1 918 (1 830)
Finnish Oral Cancer Association (1962) 781 (900) 11
Association of Cancer Patients in Finland (1971) 134 (125) 24 potilasverkostoa
Finnish Association for Children and Young People with Cancer, Sylva (1982) (1 620 1 633)

Member associations’ activities

Regional cancer associations cover the whole of Finland. In 2019, each association (with the exception of Åland) had at least one office offering counselling services by a nurse special-ised in oncology. Counselling for cancer patients and their relatives, peer support groups and individuals are core activities of all regional member associations. Each association has an executive director or CEO (Cancer Association of Southwest Finland).

All regional associations provided cancer counselling, closely linked to psychosocial support, for cancer patients and their loved ones. In addition, the Cancer Association of Pirkanmaa has a doctor’s office and a laboratory. The Cancer Association of Southwest Finland had to give up the outpatient care activities of the Karinakoti hospice for financial reasons. The as-sociation continues to maintain enhanced service housing on its Moikoinen campus.

All regional cancer associations provide rehabilitation support services and activities. The majority of regional associations organised adaptation training for cancer patients, which was coordinated by the CSF and supported by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA) with state subsidies paid from Veikkaus’ proceeds. Some member associations also arranged rehabilitation activities funded by the Social Insurance Insti-tution of Finland (Kela) or hospital districts. The associations also supported those suffering from cancer financially by paying treatment daily allowances or grants.

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

National patient associations operate throughout the country and collaborate with the regional associations. Patient associations offer patients with prostate cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer the opportunity for peer support, joint activities and expert advice. Some patient associations also provide adaptation coaching.

The Finnish Association for Children and Young People with Cancer (Sylva) brings together the families of children and young people with cancer and supports them in many different ways. The Association of Cancer Patients in Finland is responsible for producing patient guides, in addition to which all patient organisations have their own publishing activities that support the association’s goals. In 2019, the Association of Cancer Patients in Finland had a total of 24 patient networks. The Finnish Throat and Oral Cancer Association runs a course centre called Kyyrönkaita, based in Mikkeli.

Local activity is pivotal for many member associations. In geographically large areas, and in more remote areas, local branches provide cancer patients and their relatives, as well as other people, with an interface with the CSF’s activities.

The member associations had a total of 173 local wards or clubs or patient networks. The largest numbers of these were of the Cancer Association of North Finland Cancer.


The Organisation Committee is appointed by the CSF Board, and each member association in turn has a representative on the committee. In 2019, the Organisation Committee was chaired by Matti Väistö, a Board member and the chairperson of the Cancer Association of North Karelia. The Organisation Committee met four times during the year and dealt with such things as the implementation of the CSF’s development plan and the strategy’s key pro-jects, plus the planning of the forthcoming strategy period.

Five Executive Director meetings were held during 2019, one of which was a two-day meet-ing in Mariehamn as a guest of the Cancer Society of Åland. Pirjo Airaksinen, the Executive Director of the Cancer Society of North Savo, chaired the meetings and the Organisation Coordinator acted as their secretary.

The executive directors actively participated in meetings on the implementation of the strategy and development plan, planning the future strategy, advocacy, cooperation with the Na-tional Cancer Centre Finland FICAN and regional cancer centres, STEA (Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations), grants and finances, and the development of various CSF activities. Executive meetings fulfil a major role in harmonising the CSF’s service ac-tivities and ensuring quality, as well as in planning joint activities and projects.

The CSF’s Swedish-language activities were discussed at two separate executive meetings, in the spring and autumn. The Cancer Society of Ostrobothnia was responsible for the nation-wide coordination of Swedish-language activities, in accordance with the development plan.

There was close cooperation in 2019 in planning the forthcoming strategy period. As part of the strategy work, extensive rounds of consultations were held: the Finance and Administration Director, Health Director and Organisation Coordinator met with association staff and trustees in 36 workshops to map out the CSF’s current situation, changes in the operating environment and participants’ views on what the CSF should focus on in the future. The material was processed by the CSF and in the joint work of the executive directors. The strategy work was implemented in 2019 and the new strategy for 2021-2025 was approved at the beginning of 2020.

Development projects supported by the Cancer Foundation

In 2019, the Cancer Foundation granted support for CSF cancer work on development projects that benefit the entire field of CSF activity. Support was granted to eight projects coordinated by member associations and three by CSF. The projects launched in 2019 develop the activities of cancer organisations in support of patients and their relatives, as well as the operating methods of the organisations. The projects involve collaboration, the lessons of which will be shared within the CSF.

CSF development plan

In spring 2016, all member associations committed themselves to implementing the development plan. The plan contains 20 recommendations on seven different sub-themes, and progress has been made in implementing them within the schedule defined by the plan. In 2019, the implementation of the development plan was continued and concurrently a survey was carried out on how the implementation of the development plan has succeeded.

The wide-ranging member services project started in 2017 continued. The goal of the project is a joint system for member registers and client management for member associations. In 2019, the joint Järkkäri client management system was used by the CSF and its 12 member associations.

Cancer Society Days and training days for elected officials

The CSF’s annual Cancer Society Days were held in January in Kuopio, hosted by the Cancer Association of North Savo. The themes of the Cancer Society Days included cooperation between the CSF and the national and regional cancer centres, strategy work, electoral advocacy and the CSF’s various development themes, such as activities with young adults and volunteering.

In 2019, no training days for elected officials took place, but it was decided that the cancer association, whose turn it will be to organise the 2020 Cancer Society Days, will plan the programme to include training components for elected officials.