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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.

At the end of 2020, the total membership of the association stood at 110,966, up from 113,830 the year before.

Member associations’s activities

Regional cancer associations cover the whole of Finland. In 2020, every association (except for Åland) had at least one office offering counselling services by a nurse specialised in oncology. Counselling and peer support by groups and individuals for people with cancer and their loved ones are core activities of all regional member associations. Each association has an executive director or managing director.

All regional cancer associations provide cancer counselling and psychosocial support for cancer patients and their relatives. The Cancer Association of Pirkanmaa has a medical service and a laboratory. The Cancer Association of Southwest Finland runs enhanced service housing on its Moikoinen campus.

The regional cancer associations provide rehabilitation support services and activities. Most of them organised professionally guided courses, coordinated by the CSF and supported by STEA with state grants from Veikkaus’ proceeds. Some of the member associations also organised rehabilitation activities funded by the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) or hospital districts. The associations also provided financial support to cancer patients by paying daily allowances or grants. Some regional member associations also supported scientific research in their own region through various grants.

The national patient associations cooperate with the regional associations. They offer people with prostate cancer, throat cancer, oral cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer the opportunity for peer support, joint activities and expert counselling. Some patient associations also organise activities supporting rehabilitation.

The Finnish Association for Children and Young People with Cancer (Sylva) brings together families of children and young people with cancer, provides them with a range of support services and carries out research on families affected by childhood cancer. The Finnish Cancer Patients’ Association is responsible for producing patient guides and all patient associations have their own publications. In 2020, the Finnish Cancer Patients’ Association had a total of 27 patient networks. The Finnish Throat and Oral Cancer Association runs a course centre called Kyyrönkaita, based in Mikkeli.

Local activities are important for many member associations. The local branches provide a contact point for cancer patients, their relatives and other members of the public in more remote areas.

In total, member associations had 176 local chapters, clubs or patient networks.

Cancer Society of Finland member associations Number of members 31 December 2020
Cancer Society of Southern Finland 11 975
Cancer Society of Central Finland 4 690
Cancer Society of Kymenlaakso 2610
Cancer Society of South-west Finland 26600
Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa 17699
Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa 12417
Cancer Society of North Karelia 2837
Cancer Society of North Savo 4035
Cancer Society of North Finland  6331
Finnish Breast Cancer Association –  Europa Donna Finland 1505
Cancer Society of Saimaa 6184
Cancer Society of Satakunta 8015
Cancer Society of Åland 948
Finnish Colorectal Cancer Association, Colores 649
Finnish Prostate Cancer Association, Propo 1950
Finnish Oral Cancer Association 784
Association of Cancer Patients in Finland 131
Finnish Association for Children and Young People with Cancer, Sylva 1606


The Organising Committee is appointed by the CSF board, and each member association in turn has a representative on it. In 2020, the Organising Committee was chaired by Annikki Thodén, a board member and Chairperson of the Cancer Association of Southern Finland. The Organising Committee met four times to discuss projects for the coming strategy period, joint advocacy activities and the activities of the associations.

A total of seven Executive Director meetings were held. Pirjo Airaksinen, Executive Director of the Cancer Society of North Savo Cancer, chaired the meetings and the organisation manager acted as secretary.

These meetings play an important role in developing the organisation’s activities, harmonising and ensuring the quality of services and planning joint activities and projects. During the exceptional circumstances, the importance of close collaboration was emphasised and remote meetings were held weekly where necessary. This close cooperation has bolstered the ability to react quickly to changes.

The CSF’s activities in Swedish were discussed at two Executive Director meetings. The Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa was responsible for the national coordination of Swedish-language activities in accordance with the development plan.

Sixteen executive directors and six staff members of the CSF participated in a management training course for the executive directors of cancer associations.

The CSF strategy for 2021-2025 was approved in December 2019 and the fulfilment of the strategy and development projects for the strategy period were planned in cooperation with the member associations.

Organisational collaboration was carried out with the Central Organisation of Russian Speakers in Finland and Moniheli the multicultural, immigrant and integration support network. The aim is to provide information and support to a wider range of target groups.

CSF development plan to 2020

The development plan for a strong and competent organisation has been an important part of realising the CSF strategy. The development plan for the current strategic period contains 20 recommendations on strengthening organisational democracy, expanding volunteering, communications and advocacy, cooperation and the division of labour within the CSF, administration and finance, human resource development, and cooperation with business.

During 2020, work continued on the implementation of statute reform, the promotion of financial and IT management and the development of volunteer activities. In addition, work continued on content development in the areas of health promotion, patient advice services, rehabilitation support and peer support. Development work was carried out in close cooperation with member associations. The aims of the development plan were largely achieved.

Development projects supported by the Cancer Foundation

In 2019, the Cancer Foundation provided support to CSF development projects for cancer support that benefit the whole CSF field. Some of the projects were conducted in 2020 and others will continue in 2021. The knowledge and practices developed through the projects were shared at Executive Director meetings and other meetings of CSF staff.

National events

The main annual gathering of cancer organisations is the Cancer Society Days, organised in 2020 by the CSF. The two-day event was held in Helsinki from 17 to 18 January. The Cancer Society Days brought together representatives and employees of the member associations and the CSF. No separate training days for elected officials were organised.
Ordinary meeting of the CSF

The biennial ordinary meeting of the CSF was held in December. Mayor emeritus Jukka Moilanen from Ulvila was elected as the chair of the delegation for the period 2021-2022. The meeting elected half of the members of the CSF council for a four-year term.