The Right to Be Forgotten


Today, more than 3 million citizens are facing a cancer diagnosis and every year, one man in 3 and one woman in 4 will develop cancer. 

The last decades have seen the cure rate dramatically improve with more than 55% of cancer patients medically cured of the condition. On an annual basis, the proportion of cancer survivors is increasing by 3% thanks to early diagnosis and innovative treatments that  allow survivors to take part in socio-economic activities for the rest of their lives. Nowadays many cancers, such as breast cancer, childhood leukemia, and testis cancer, present survival rates are above 80%.


Thanks to the tremendous progress of medicine in the last decades, cancer is no longer a death sentence, and more and more citizens are able to enjoy a “normal” life, at least from a health point of view.

However, many cancer survivors face discrimination and penalisation when attempting to live return to their professional lives and realise their personal dreams. Ensuring cancer survivors’ quality of life needs to go beyond preventing the potential recurrence of the disease and must support their full integration and re-insertion into society at all levels. 

Cancer survivors are indeed the object of several forms of discrimination, years or even decades after they were deemed cured by health professionals. They are, amongst other forms, discriminated against when seeking or returning to work or when trying to access financial services such as mortgages and insurance. 


By financial discrimination, we mean the unfair and unequal treatment of individuals or groups (here cancer survivors) based on their medical history.

Financial discrimination occurs when people are disadvantaged, denied opportunities, or treated differently when trying to access financial services, solely due to their medical history. As a result of this discrimination, financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies might deny their services or provide different terms, often in the form of prohibitively high premiums, to cancer survivors.

Financial discrimination perpetuates and reinforces social and economic inequalities, making it harder for cancer survivors to live normal lives and fulfil their personal or professional aspirations.


As a medical doctor and former Director-General of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Dr. Françoise Meunier has seen first-hand how her former patients still faced hardship after battling cancer. As a result, she has been advocating for change and set up this initiative to demand political action to protect cancer survivors from financial discrimination throughout Europe.

In addition to regularly engaging with various national and European stakeholders to raise awareness of the problem of financial discrimination, Dr. Meunier also organised three cancer survivorship summits in Brussels to create awareness of the specific needs of cancer survivors, particularly in relation to insurance and mortgages. A High-Level Conference is also scheduled to take place in Brussels on 15 February 2024.

Francoise Meunier

Françoise Meunier, MD, PhD, FRCP (UK)

Founder of the European Initiative on Ending Discrimination against Cancer Survivors

Member of The Royal Academies of Medicine of Belgium (ARMB)

Member of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (EACS) Science Policy Committee
Member of the Survivorship and quality of life network of the European Cancer Organisation (ECO)
Member of the advisory board of smartCARE

Françoise Meunier dedicated her professional life to improving the survival and QoL of cancer patients.  

Prof. Meunier served as Director-General of EORTC (1991-2015), where she remained active until 2018 as Director of Special Projects, being the driving force behind cancer survivorship activities.

Since 2014, she has been pursuing activities on the Right to be Forgotten for cancer survivors, advocating for the creation of a harmonised legal framework to tackle discrimination against cancer survivors.

Prof. Meunier is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine and holds the title of Baroness by His Majesty, The King Albert II of Belgium. More information about Prof. Meunier can be found here.


  • Award for lifetime contribution to oncology – Pezcoller Foundation, Italy (2009)
  • Lifetime achievement award – European Society for Medical Oncology (2012)