The Veneto Institute of Oncology: using health knowledge to transform lifestyles

A large proportion of cancers could be prevented, for example, if people eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid tobacco products and reduce alcohol consumption. Despite the amount of evidence, integrating this knowledge to improve individual and population health outcomes is difficult. The Veneto Institute of Oncology (IOV) is at the forefront in this area with 2 pilot projects on nutrition and cancer prevention that provide practical support to help at-risk patients live a healthier life.


The CARE PRO project focuses on scientific research to prevent cancer in patients with precancerous lesions in the gastrointestinal tract, such as Barrett's esophagus for which IOV is a reference centre of care. The PRIMARY PREVENTION OECI, Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI) project, which will develop over the next few months, concentrates on primary prevention from a practical viewpoint for the general population in Veneto region.

The strength of this approach is in its practicality. The idea is to develop a so-called health coach for people at risk, to give them practical advice on a healthy diet. "We believe that information alone does not generate a real change without concrete actions that help people to understand how to change their lifestyles," stated Stefano Realdon, Director of the Digestive Endoscopy Unit at IOV. "We must give information to our patients, but also the instruments to achieve their goals. We are organizing with our specialists, for instance, some cooking courses to teach people how to prepare a nutritionally balanced meal. With the help of the Nordic Walking Smile, we also organized a group of Nordic walking classes each Saturday morning from December to May."

About the IOV

IOV is the first institute in Veneto region specifically for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer and for cancer research. It has several cancer prevention objectives.

  • Give correct information that is free from conflicts of interest.
  • Work on applied research, which helps people to make real changes in their lifestyles.
  • Build a network of people, associations, institutions and organizations interested in cooperating on health promotion.
  • Develop projects to help people at risk of developing cancer to adopt a healthier lifestyle with targeted interventions (e.g. cooking classes).
  • Translate into italian the European code against cancer, developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which contains 12 ways to reduce the risk of cancer.