The Nordic Cancer Union provides funding for projects of high standard within the field of cancer amounting to 250.000 euros annually.

These projects  aim at ameliorating relevant cancer problems in the member countries. The projects funded by the NCU meet strict requirements, with priority given to projects and initiatives that reflect the current general strategy of the NCU and have added Nordic value.



Call for applications on Strategic projects concerning research projects on Covid-19 and cancer in the Nordic region 

The Nordic Cancer Union (NCU) consisting of the national cancer societies in the Nordic countries, invites research institutions to submit research proposals on Covid-19 and cancer. 



The situation with Covid-19 has dramatically challenged the health care system worldwide. For cancer patients, the situation has been especially worrying . Besides worrying about their disease, many have experienced changes in the treatment and healthcare service to handle Covid-19 pandemic. Many cancer patients are also worried about being exposed to the virus since cancer treatment can lower the immune system’s ability to fight the virus infection. 


Even if there are findings suggesting, that cancer patients are more likely to be both infected by the virus and also have a higher risk of complication if they get sick, cancer and Covid-19 are still a topic, where we need more knowledge both at the global and Nordic level. 


One challenge regarding research on Covid-19 and cancer is that even if this is a pandemic, the number of cancer patients included in studies on Covid-19 are often so small, that it is challenging to present valid conclusions. It is especially a problem in smaller countries like the Nordic countries. However, studies conducted in the Nordic region with a total population of approx. 27 million, will produce meaningful and significant results. 


The Nordic countries also have an advantage of keeping excellent and reliable population-based registries and cancer registries that can be leveraged to research on this pandemic and cancer, which would have been difficult to achieve in other countries.n


Call for research proposals 

NCU consisting of the national cancer societies in the Nordic countries would like to invite research institution to submit research proposals on Covid-19 and cancer. We are looking for projects that address the following questions (not a complete list):


  • Incidence of Covid-19 among patients with cancer
  • Mortality in cancer patients with Covid-19
  • Severity and complication of Covid-19 in cancer patients
  • Consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on cancer care in general (e.g. cancer detection, diagnostics, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative cancer care)


Research proposals must include data from all Nordic countries, and there should be documented research collaboration between all participating countries. 


The NCU scientific committee will review all project application, and the NCU board will make the final decision for funding.  


Application content 

A project description of no more than five pages with work plan, schedule and information on collaboration partners.


  • The benefit of Nordic collaboration should be specified in the project description
  • Budget information including information on other funds 
  • Brief CV of the applicants, as well as information on the position, addresses, phone numbers, and email for at least for the principal applicant 

Project criteria 

  • Timeframe: 2 years 
  • Budget: Maximum 200.000 euro 


Application deadline 

Application deadline: 1. September 2020  



The NCU scientific committee will review all project application, and the final decision for funding will be made by the NCU board 10. December 2020.


Terms and conditions 

Please read the Guidelines for NCU Research Grant Application and Allocation before starting the application process  


How to apply and form 

The application must be written in English using the Danish Cancer Society’s electronic application and reporting system at - choose ‘NCU - Strategic projects’.  


The NCU funding shall only be used for the purpose stated in the application and as specified. If this requirement is not fulfilled, repayment can be requested. 


Any change that deviates from the application or proposal must be approved by the NCU administration.  


The project managers are obligated to mention the NCU's contribution to the project in all external communication related to the project. 

Further information 

Applicants are welcome to contact the NCU Research Secretariat for further information. Questions concerning the application form can be directed to Secretary Anne Mette Bak, email:, tel.: +45 3525 7257.  


Questions concerning the application process can be directed to NCU Coordinator Elizabeth Hjorth, email:, phone: +45 3525 7252.




NCU has supported e.g. NORDCAN, the Summer School in Cancer Epidemiology, the Association of Nordic Cancer Registries along with many smaller projects.




NCU Board decided 8. May 2019 to support NORDCAN 2019 – 2021.

January 1st 2019, the secretariat of NORDCAN moved from the Danish Cancer Society to the Cancer Registry of Norway. One of the main tasks of the new secretariat the next three years, in addition to facilitating the existing NORDCAN-cooperation, is to lead the project of the upcoming transition, modernization and harmonization of the whole NORDCAN-platform. To secure continuous sharing of data between the Nordic countries, the secretariat and IARC, there is a need to move from a centralized data processing in the secretariat to localized data processing in each Nordic country.


The main tasks of the NORDCAN-group, the IT-group and the secretariat is to make all necessary specifications for both the harmonization and quality assurance of the localized data processing and for a new web platform.


UPDATE March 2020:

A modernised view on Nordic cancer statistics

A new, dynamic version of NORDCAN, the analytical tool and database that enables the comparison of cancer statistics for the Nordic countries, is now available. This is a proud day for the cooperation between the Association of Nordic Cancer Registries (ANCR), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Nordic Cancer Union (NCU)n


Long history of collaboration

The Nordic Cancer Registry collaboration stretches all the way back to the early 1950’ies. One of the fruits of this collaboration is the NORDCAN web tool, established as a pilot in 2002 and with the first full version in 2003, with both IARC as developer and host of the web tool and NCU as financial support as crucial partners.

Even though many changes and improvements has been done over the years, the main framework of the tool has remained the same and now appears more and more outdated and soon no longer possible to use to fit the future needs of NORDCAN. Continuing the fruitful collaboration between ANCR, IARC and NCU, a process for a complete makeover of the NORDCAN web tool was initiated in 2019, and the result is already present at


What is new in NORDCAN 2.0?

NORDCAN 2.0 still contains the same, high quality database from the Nordic countries as before and currently displays statistics on incidence and mortality. The overall look of the web tool is modernised and new tools, like the D3 JavaScript library, is used for better and more dynamic data visualisation. The new web tool also allows for more flexibility, giving better opportunities for the further development of comparable cancer statistics in the Nordic countries in the future.


Future work in NORDCAN

This launch of NORDCAN 2.0 is only the beginning of the planned NORDCAN update. Apart from continuously fixing small bugs and refining the data visualisation, future work will focus on replacing all parts of the old NORDCAN web tool, including statics on prevalence, survival and predictions. At the same time the NORDCAN work group focus on further development to keep NORDCAN as up to date and relevant as possible. Current initiatives involve, for instance, new ways of doing data harmonisation, enrichment and aggregation. An important milestone is the planned update of the NORDCAN database in May/June, including cancer statistics for 2017 and 2018. 


Read IARC press release about NORDCAN 2.0 here

Visit the old NORDCAN-version here:




Strategic project: Nordic Research on Cancer Pathways


A multidisciplinary research network has been set up with support from Nordic Cancer Union and Confederation of Regional Cancer Centres in Sweden. The aim is to inspire to and conduct multidisciplinary and cross-country comparative research of the function, impacts and effectiveness of the standardized cancer pathways that have been developed in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and soon in Finland as well. Examples of research could be: 

  • What characterizes patients undergoing/not undergoing the pathways and does it impact on patient reported experiences and outcomes? 
  • How did the implementation of standardized cancer pathways differ across countries?
  • How to learn more about alarm symptoms and early detection of cancer?


NCU believe it is possible to learn from each other better via comparative research. The group shall support and coordinate Nordic research projects, set up a home page and meet regularly in the total group and specific groups. Contact persons‚Äč,



Strategic project: Cost and outcomes of cancer in the Nordic countries


The aim of the study is to provide insight into cancer costs and drivers which affect the costs in the Nordic countries and combine them with currently available outcome measures (NORDCAN). To do so clearly defined harmonized cost indicators across the Nordic countries are needed. As a secondary objective of the project, uniform and comparable data specifications developed between the countries, will enable easier updating of the comparisons in the future. The study will also map the Nordic situation on patient-relevant outcome measures (PROM) in each country and relate these to both health economy and outcomes of cancer care. The study will identify key development issues in the data which is collected and the contents of national registries, especially regarding outcome measures.

Contact Sakari Karjalainen, secretary general, Cancer Society of Finland



Strategic project: Nordic Summer School in Cancer Epidemiology


With NCU support the ANCR have hosted a summer school every second year since 1991, aimed at students in epidemiology (Medicine, Statistics, Biology, Nursing, Public health etc.). Gradually the course has been opened for PhD students and newcomers to epidemiological and clinical research. The course has been instrumental in attracting new researchers to cancer statistics and epidemiology where the Nordic Countries and the NCU can contribute importantly to global cancer control.


The aim of the course is to increase research competence and the utilisation of population-based databases in cancer (cancer registries etc.) for new knowledge, benchmarking and follow-up and thus policy development and evidence base for cancer societies. 


The collaboration between the Nordic Cancer Registries and the NCU on training is unique as a tool to recruit and stimulate the next generations to cancer research, to enhance and support the networking within the Nordic countries in cancer research and epidemiology. The most prominent area where Nordic countries can contribute as no one else is in the field of population-based research due to the wealth of registries. The Summer School not only stimulates future use but also presents the use of registries - and secures that information from a 25 million population - is used to improve cancer care and prevention - not only for Nordic people but also world wide by producing solid unambiguous results compared to many other settings.



Nordic Summer School in Cancer Epidemiology 2019 - 2020


During 2 weeks of intensive basic training the course introduces theories of research and cancer epidemiology, population based as well as clinical, and provides a network between students and competent researchers and peers in the field.  Each student is provided a tutor from a cancer registry research group and a research project to complete during the 2 month’ practical work period. Half a year after the theoretical part students and tutors meet to present and discuss results. Hence, the course is comprehensive from idea, theory, and practical to reporting and peer review.


Many previous students are now active in research - most in public health, registries and clinics but also laboratory research has received researchers with good skills in epidemiology, strengthening translational research. Impact of this activity is long term for students, but also short-term benefits for the institutes having projects carried out during the 1 course period.  The course is unique in its set-up mixing theory and work on real data of which most end up in peer reviewed publications.


Any development in cancer prevention, treatment and care requires competent researchers. Competence and availability of researchers in the cancer field requires investments with targeted training specific to cancer. The Nordic Summer School in cancer epidemiology is such an investment and has been rated very important by the Cancer Societies’ advisory research committee. The need to attract the best brains to cancer research and population based cancer research in order to meet the goal of reducing the burden of cancer and cancer deaths in the future is obvious. The course includes education on the unique possibilities related to effective use of all Nordic register-based data. This type of education is not available in any of the international courses of epidemiology, neither in the handbooks, nor in university settings.


Contact: Klaus Kaae Andersen, Head of statistics, Statistics and pharmaco epidemiology , Danish Cancer Society Research Center,



Cancer epidemiology and screening participation among non-western immigrant women in the Nordic countries


There is significant geographical variation in cancer incidence and mortality worldwide. Cervical cancer is a clear example of a global health disparity with about 90% of the disease occurring in low or medium HDI regions. Screening has been shown to reduce mortality from breast and cervical cancer. In the Nordic countries with population-wide screening programs, attendance is suboptimal in women with foreign background. Barriers for screening in these population groups have been examined so far only to a limited extent.


In the Nordic countries, there are national population, cancer and screening registries with high completeness. Thus, the Nordic countries provide a unique data source to follow and monitor cancer incidence, cancer mortality and screening participation in female populations with foreign origin.


This study focuses particularly on women born abroad and women born in the Nordic countries to immigrant parents. In the Nordic countries combined the share of people with foreign background is substantially higher than in Finland alone. Population with foreign background is expected to grow in all the Nordic countries in the near future.


The aim of this research is to estimate cancer incidence, mortality and survival, and to identify possible barriers to cancer screening among women with non-western background in the Nordic countries.


Contact: Nea Malila, Professor, MD, Ph.D. Director of the Finnish Cancer Registry, Cancer Society of Finland, E-mail:



Nordic Adolescents and the New Nicotine Market (NADNIC)


The project concentrates on adolescents aged 14 to 17 where the risk of getting addicted to tobacco and other nicotine products is high. Adolescents like to experiment and adopt behaviours belonging to the adult world. New trends like electronic cigarettes interest them while long-term risks, even if known, are not a concern. Adolescents are potential new consumers of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco as well as chewing tobacco and snus, usually containing highly addictive nicotine and having adverse health effects.


Knowing and understanding adolescent behaviour in the present Nordic context is needed for creation of effective preventive measures and policies. The project aims to answer the following research questions:


  1. What kind of tobacco and nicotine containing tobacco-like products, particularly e-cigarettes, the Nordic adolescents use? Are there differences between the countries?

We use data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) collected in 2019.


  1. How the Nordic adolescents perceive the reasons behind the use of the novel tobacco-like products? What is the importance of flavours and packaging design in uptake and regular use? How they perceive health risks (e.g. cancer)? How they obtain the products?

We will conduct focus group interviews among 16-17-year old students in vocational schools and gymnasiums.


  1. What is the contemporary regulatory environment for tobacco and nicotine in the Nordic countries? Are there differences in the regulation of these products? What recommendations can be given to NCU?

Comparative policy analysis will be based on information of regulatory schemes in the Nordic countries including legislation and other regulations, official/semi-official tobacco control strategies, recommendations and other relevant sources. The analysis identifies main differences and similarities between the countries’ approaches, possible gaps in regulations and novel regulatory approaches. Recommendations for NCU will be formulated.


Contact: Professor Arja Rimpelä, Tampere University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Unit of Health Sciences, Finland.