The number of people being diagnosed with cancer continues to rise steadily. One in three people in the Netherlands can now expect to experience cancer. How can we prevent it? What development or treatment might cure cancer, or make living with the disease more bearable? We fund a large number of cancer studies to find answers to these questions.

Types and forms of cancer

There are many types and forms of cancer. We facilitate research into all kinds of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma, breast cancer, cervical cancer, bowel cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer. The focus of the research ranges from prevention to diagnostics, treatment and living with cancer. Read about outcomes of research that have won a ZonMw ‘Parel’ (Pearl Award), been implemented in healthcare practice or incorporated into guidelines.

Read about the different kinds of cancer research

Preventing cancer

Lifestyle and cancer

Many people in the Netherlands experience cancer at some point in their life. Their numbers are forecast to grow over the coming years. The disease has a major impact on the health of patients and on the people around them. Good treatment and, above all, prevention, are very important. A healthy lifestyle and healthy living environment are key factors.

Cancer screening

The chances of treating cancer successfully are greater if it is discovered early. We provide knowledge for population screening, and for existing or innovative screening methods.

Treating cancer

Oncode: innovative approach cancer research

In order to outsmart cancer, it is important to combine excellent oncological research with an excellent valorization strategy. This way, we can get treatment methods into the clinic as fast as possible. Because of this, we are contributing to the Oncode institute with the programme Oncode.

Drug treatments for cancer

There are many different types of cancer and many different drug treatments. Chemotherapy (alongside surgery and radiotherapy) is the best-known type of treatment for tumours. The effects of each drug differ, as does the type of cancer for which it can be used. Whether cancer can be cured depends among other things on the type of cancer and how far it has advanced. Potential new treatments for cancer are still being developed.

Treatment methods

The Efficiency Studies programme provides knowledge about which cancer treatments work best and what they cost. This ensures that patients receive the optimum treatment. The results of these studies also help to keep healthcare affordable, as inefficient treatments can be phased out.

Living with cancer

Palliative care

Around half of people with cancer are told at some point that it is no longer curable. This does not necessarily mean that they will die soon, however. Patients with some types of cancer can continue to live for a long time. They will then receive palliative care and treatment, which gives them emotional, spiritual and social support to maintain quality of life. The care needs, systematic treatment and wishes of the patient and their family are the main focus.

Cancer and e-health

Patients with cancer are generally fragile. They often face a range of physical, psychosocial and existential problems. Self-management is important in coping with these problems. The Oncocompas is an online self-management tool that enables patients and their partners to independently monitor their quality of life at home.

LearnPAL is a mobile learning tool about palliative care for cancer. Both of these tools were funded by ZonMw.

Corona and cancer

What is the effect of COVID vaccination on cancer patients? And what impact did the COVID-19 pandemic have on care of cancer patients and people with signs of cancer? We already have some answers to these questions.


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