NCU Board meeting 10 December 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all Nordic countries. In addition to the direct effects of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), preliminary data suggest that the pandemic has had an indirect impact on health, including the provision of timely cancer care. Cancer screening programs were temporarily stopped, delayed, or experienced reduced attendance, and cancer patients in general may have experienced delays in diagnostics and treatment. The magnitude of the COVID-19 impact on cancer diagnostics and care in the Nordic countries is currently unknown.

The project aims to estimate these effects.

Among those infected with SARS-CoV-2, evidence is conflicting on whether cancer patients are at higher risk than the general population of developing serious complications as reflected in hospitalizations, respiratory failure and death. Many of the first studies attempting to address these questions were based on case series or hospital-based collection of cases, precluding firm conclusions. Population-based data are needed to further clarify possible associations between cancer and COVID-19 outcomes.

The project aims to provide such data.

The project takes advantage of the Nordic cancer registry collaboration, the five Nordic population-based cancer registries, as well as other Nordic health registry data.

By combining high-quality population-based registry data from the Nordic countries a number of questions relating to COVID-19 and cancer will be adressed. The Nordic countries with a combined population of 27 million inhabitants provide an optimal setting for addressing outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For further information: Giske Ursin, Director and Professor, Cancer Registry of Norway,

Inspirational presentations

Prevention of overweight and obesity in the Nordic countries – dilemmas, challenges and common Nordic activities/initiatives by Mette Lolk Hanak, Head of Prevention & Information, Danish Cancer Society

Both IARC and WCRF has recognized obesity as an important risk factor for at least 13 different cancers. The obesity prevalence in the Nordic Countries are high and rising, this implies that we can expect more cancer cases in future. In addition, more than 40 other NCDs and chronic conditions can be attributed to overweight and obesity.

Obesity and overweight induce stigma and are perceived as an individual problem. That is why it is a sensitive topic to address and to deal with. WHO describes our society as an obesogenic environment, where cheap, high-energy dense foods and drinks in large portions are available around the clock. At the same time much of our incentive to be physical active has disappeared, whilst we use much of our waken hours inactive in front of a screen. Overweight and obesity are unevenly distributed in the populations, thus population groups with low SES experience higher prevalence of obesity. In addition, obesity generates more social inequality in health.

All sectors, institutions and organization must contribute, if we are going to succeed in ending the unfortunate developments in obesity and counteract its negative societal consequences and increased cancer prevalence. NCU has good prerequisites for contributing to some of the solutions by initiating different actions.

Link: Danskernes viden om og holdninger til overvægt og sundhed 2019

The NCU Board decided, that NCU members will focus on exchange and development of ideas and ways to prevent overweight and obesity in the Nordic countries.

For further information: Mette Lolk Hanak, Head of Prevention & Information, Danish Cancer Society,

One small step for man, One giant leap for mankind by Mef Christina Nilbert, Research Director, Danish Cancer Society

Being a cancer researcher, an epidemiologist, a surgeon, a hemathologist or an oncologist these days is an extremly rewarding job. We can look back at decades of advances. More patients survive. We have new tools. For researchers these are called gene editing, next-generation sequencing, single cell biology, nano robots, super-resolution microscopy if you are a cancer researcher. For clinicians these are called artificial intelligance, prehabilitation, laparoscopy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

Mef Nilbert, oncologist, professor and research director at the Danish Cancer Society compared and reflected on cancer treatment and outcome from the past until today and made some predictions for the future.

Mef Nilbert concluded, that prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer have developed very positively during the last 50 years and significant results have been achived.

Nordic collaboration and Nordic coordination are key elements in reaching further in preventing the preventable and making the future mission of 3 out of 4 survive cancer a reality.

For further information: Mef Christina Nilbert, Research Director, Danish Cancer Society,