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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, 12 of which are provincial cancer associations, and six are national patient organisations. The total number of members at the end of 2016 was 122 201.


Regional cancer societies

The regional cancer societies extend nationwide, including Åland. In 2016 each organisation, with the exception of Åland, has at least one office providing advice by an oncology nurse. 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 societies provided cancer counselling closely oriented to psychosocial support for cancer patients and their loved ones. In addition, the Cancer Society of South-West Finland has a nursing home and enhanced home service, and the Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa has a clinic and laboratory.

All the regional cancer societies provide services and activities geared to supporting rehabilitation. The majority of the regional associations arrange adaptation training, coordinated by the CSF and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health supported by grants paid by the Finnish Slot Machine Association (Ray). Some member associations also organise rehabilitation activities funded by the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) or hospital districts. Associations also supported cancer patients financially by paying treatment allowances or assistance.

The regional member associations supported scientific research in their own area with various grants. At its 65th anniversary seminar, the Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa invites applications for a €250 000 research grant. The Cancer Society of South-West Finland’s grant for 2016 was €185 000. The Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa provided €30 000 to support the research work of the oncology unit at Vaasa Central Hospital. The other regional associations awarded smaller grants.

National patient organisations

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

The Finnish Association of Children and Young People with Cancer, Sylva, brings together the families of affected children and youth and provides support for them in various ways. In 2016, the Association of Cancer Patients in Finland had a total of 16 rare-cancer patients’ 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 member organisations. 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 nearly 190 local branches or clubs. Most were those of the Cancer Society of North Finland. Conversely, the Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa did not have any branch or club activities locally.

An estimated 10 000 members participate in local activities. Relative to the membership of the association, local participation has been most active in North Karelia (accounting for more than half the members). Local activity is also a major aspect of work in Southern Finland, South-West Finland, Pohjanmaa, North Savo and North Finland. On average, one in twelve members is actively involved in the work of the local branches and clubs.

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


Name of organisation Number of offices Members 31.12.2016 (31.12.2015) Number of local branches or clubs
Cancer Society of South Finland (1965) 4 14 333 (14 688) 16
Cancer Society of Central Finland (1956) 1 5 112 (5 096) 5
Cancer Society of Kymenlaakso (1956) 2 3 042 (3 143) 5
Cancer Society of South-West Finland (1951) 6 28 815 (28 471) 12
Cancer Society of Pirkanmaa (1951) 7 20 714 (21 022) 2
Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa (1956) 4 12 815 (12 835) 29
Cancer Society of North Karelia (1956) 1 3 213 (3 322) 14
Cancer Society of North Savo (1959) 1 4 204 (4 271) 20
Cancer Society of North Finland (1957) 2 7 455 (7 731) 50
Finnish Breast Cancer Association – Europa Donna Finland (2005) 1 1 075 (997)
Cancer Society of Saimaa (1953) 4 7 465 (7 719) 10
Cancer Society of Satakunta (1974) 3 8 207 (8 204) 4
Cancer Society of Åland (1986) 1 834 (832)
Colores – Finnish Colorectal Cancer Association (2007) 1 533 (530)
Propo Finnish Prostate Cancer Association (1997) 1 1 823 (1 850)
Finnish Oral Cancer Association (1962) 2 906 (927) 12
Association of Cancer Patients in Finland (1971) 1 110 (114) 17 patient networks
Finnish Association of Children and Young People with Cancer, Sylva (1982) 1 1 545 (1 457) 1


Organisation committee

The board of the CSF appoints the organisation committee and each member association in turn has its representative on it. In 2016, the chairman of the organisation committee was a member of the board and chairman of the Cancer Society of North Karelia, Counselor of State Matti Väistö. The committee convened five times during the year, addressing, such things as the implementation of the CSF’s development plan and the key projects contained in its strategy.

Meetings of executive directors

There were five meetings of executive directors held in 2016, one of which was a two-day meeting in Oulu hosted by the North Finland Cancer Society. The executive director of the Saimaa Cancer Society, Leila Märkjärvi, chaired the meeting, and prepared the executive directors’ meetings together with the secretary for organisations. The executive directors actively participated in meetings on the implementation of the strategy, grants and economic issues, the 2017 action plan, peer support, the volunteering development plan, fundraising, training, rehabilitation and cost sharing of the magazine Syöpä (Cancer). The meetings of executive directors play an important role in harmonising and the quality assurance of the organisation’s service activities and in planning joint activities and projects.

The Swedish-language activities of the organisation were discussed at two separate meetings of executive directors, held in spring and autumn. 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 Propo the Finnish Prostate Cancer Association. The Cancer Society of Pohjanmaa took responsibility for national co-ordination 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 2016 at the ordinary meeting of the CSF and meeting of the council. Helena Mussalo-Rauhamaa, a representative of the Cancer Society of South Finland, chaired the election committee.

Cancer Society of Finland’s Development Plan

During spring 2016, all member associations committed themselves to implementing the development plan. The CSF and the Cancer Foundation’s boards had done so already. The plan contains 20 recommendations under seven different themes. Progress was made in the schedule set by the plan for implementing the recommendations. The CSF’s rule change was prepared and reviewed by an expert on the Associations Act. The change of the rules was postponed until the CSF ceases to have individual members. There have been no new members recruited for decades. A volunteering development program was prepared during the year, 11 members’ websites were renewed, and an external newsletter was produced

Cancer Society Days

The CSF’s annual Cancer Society Days were held at the Marina Congress Centre in Helsinki, 15 – 16 January 2016.