The burden of cancer continues to grow globally, creating substantial pressure on patients, their families, and communities. Cancer represents the second largest cause of death and morbidity in Europe, with more than 3.7 million new cases and 1.9 million deaths each year.


However, new therapeutic approaches are bringing us closer to a future where cancer becomes a curable disease. Knowledge of cancer has improved vastly in the last two decades, revealing the huge variability not only between cancer types (e.g. breast cancer, colorectal cancer), but also between patients of the same cancer type (e.g. triple negative breast cancer, erbB2 positive breast cancer), and highlighting the need for – and the promise of – tailoring cancer care to individual patient characteristics.


Fuelled by this knowledge, cancer treatment is increasingly shifting towards precision oncology, an approach that systematically utilises patient/tumour data to inform personalised treatment decisions. With precision oncology, physicians can identify molecular characteristics of a patient’s tumour and select a treatment that will be most effective at targeting that specific tumour subtype. The vision for precision oncology is transformative: to deliver superior outcomes for all cancer patients and ultimately reduce the suffering caused by cancer.


The Cancer Biomarkers Patient Guide has been initiated by the European Cancer Patient Coalition – ECPC as part of ECPC activities for awareness raising on personalized medicine in cancer during its Personalized Medicine Month in November to assist patients, their family members and friends to understand better the cancer biomarker testing  that may influence the decisions for their personalised  medicine treatment. The Guide was prepared to offer concise information to patients, who will have cancer biomarker testing in view of receiving personalized medicine treatment. The Guide includes all basic information cancer patients, carers and families may wish to have handy in preparation of their medical appointments.


Cancer patients are invited to consult the Glossary to familiarize themselves with the terms used for cancer biomarker testing as well as the suggested questions to be asked to their healthcare team before and after cancer biomarker testing.


We hope that this Guide will be useful to you and we invite you to share any suggestions you may have for its improvement with us, by mail at or


You can download the Guide by clicking here.