Oncological oblivion is law, the rule affects 1 million Italians: stop discrimination

The protection of the rights of those who have been affected by oncological pathologies is strengthened. For them, adopting a child, applying for a mortgage or taking part in a competition will no longer be an obstacle race

The definitive and unanimous green light for the bill on cancer oblivion comes from the Senate Chamber, after the approval already received from the Chamber, with 139 votes in favour. A long round of applause with the senators standing followed the assembly’s vote. The law also establishes in Italy the right to be forgotten for those who have been affected by oncological pathologies with the aim of preventing discrimination and protecting rights.

The comment of the Minister of Health Schillaci

Oncologists and associations applaud and the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci spoke of a “law of civility”. With the final approval of the law, “which the Government has strongly supported – he stated – we are winning a battle of civilization in defense of people who have recovered from cancer. I thank the parliamentarians of all the political forces who with this provision have contributed to giving back to people who have left behind a tumor the possibility of living a full life without barriers and discrimination”.

The law on oncological oblivion

With the law on oncological oblivion, adopting a child, asking for a bank loan, taking part in a competition will no longer represent an obstacle course for people who have recovered from cancer. In fact, specific rules are envisaged to protect former patients from possible discrimination in the insurance and financial fields, as well as in the workplace. As explained by Francesco Perrone, president of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom), “the law provides for a ban on requesting information on a previous oncological pathology after 10 years from the end of the treatments in the absence of recurrence of the disease in this period. For patients in whom the diagnosis is prior to the age of 21, this limit is reduced to 5 years. The law not only protects in relations with banks and insurance companies but also in insolvency proceedings, if physical suitability is required and in proceedings of adoption”. It is therefore, underlined Perrone, “a more advanced law compared to what has been established in other states that have already adopted rules on this issue”. It is also envisaged that, with procedures to be defined through a technical table of the Ministry of Health, tables will be established that allow these times to be further reduced based on the different oncological pathology.

The applause of doctors and voluntary associations

In Italy there are approximately one million citizens affected by oncological oblivion because they are considered cured, compared to 3.6 million who live with a cancer diagnosis. “Citizens cured of cancer in Italy will no longer be discriminated against in their social, professional and family life,” said Francesco Perrone. Francesco Cognetti, president of Foce (Federation of oncologists, cardiologists and hematologists), is also satisfied and now hopes for a “real and concrete application of the law”. And the world of volunteering applauds. “Finally – said the president of the Federation of voluntary oncology associations (Favo) Francesco De Lorenzo – the stigma cancer = death or incurable disease, which unfortunately is still deeply rooted in common feeling, has been abolished by law”. The Italian Federation of Associations of Parents and Healed Pediatric Oncohematology (Fiagop) and the Italian Association of Pediatric Hematology Oncology (Aieop) also speak of a “historic victory”: “The stigma of the disease imposed by bureaucracy is swept away”. For the president of the Social Affairs and Health Commission of the Chamber, Ugo Cappellacci, “with the definitive approval of the bill, the recovery is now followed by the return to social life for former patients. A beautiful page of freedom and hope”. A goal that Italy reaches after France, Portugal, Spain and also other countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In February 2022, the European Commission, as part of the European Oncology Plan, hoped that all member states would adopt a law on the Right to Be Forgotten oncology by 2025.