Ms Faulds Wood, who set up Lynn's Bowel Cancer Campaign in the UK after being diagnosed with bowel cancer 12 years ago, said that she had been shocked to discover that there were still so many inequalities in access to treatment and knowledge of best practice across Europe. "We hope that this new group will enable us to highlight some of these problems to policy makers, and empower patients - the people who are the most directly affected - to ask questions about them. No-one with cancer should have to put up with sub-standard treatment just because they don't know that there is anything better in another country, or even another region of the same country," she said.
The Coalition hopes to become the natural first point of reference for European institutions when seeking the opinions of cancer patients. "To date there has been no fully representative body to which the European Commission, for example, could turn," said Ms Faulds Wood "and this has meant that they have often been given inappropriate advice by groups which are not able to see the full picture."
Members of the Coalition intend to influence European health policymaking, affirm the rights of cancer patients, ensure access to appropriate screening, treatment and care, and to promote the advancement of cancer research. To ensure that their voice is both strong and representative, they will work together with the scientific and professional cancer community in lobbying policymakers.
"It is time that all cancer patients had a properly representative forum to help them help themselves", said Ms Faulds Wood. "There is much that we can achieve by working together across Europe."
" HIV/AIDS patients have shown us the way. Their activism, coupled with their understanding of how to influence policymakers, drug regulators, and clinicians, forced their inclusion into the decision making process. We see the Coalition as becoming the same kind of potent political force for good, and achieving results not just for those who have been diagnosed with cancer, but for those in whom it can be prevented before it starts", she said.