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Cancer Journalism Award 2021 Winners

Outstanding journalism recognised in ESO Award

Our congratulations go to journalists from Italy, Germany and the UK, who have been recognised for their outstanding achievement in the 2021 Cancer Journalism Award.

There were winners in three categories, who each receive €1500, with the overall winner receiving an additional €500.

Overall winner and Winner of Policy, Services and Affordability category

The overall winners were freelance science journalists Valentina Murelli and Maria Cristina Valsecchi from Italy, who jointly researched and wrote a piece on fertility issues for women receiving treatment for cancer – an issue, the judges said, that deserved the detailed and sympathetic focus that the authors provided.

The winners said: "It’s a great honour for us to receive such a prestigious award, especially because it acknowledges the importance of the topic we wrote about, preservation of fertility for women with a cancer. We believe that it’s a field where information can make a difference in life.”

Their article appeared on the “Eva - Sapere è potere”, a new website about reproductive health: https://evasaperepotere.wordpress.com/2021/03/29/tumori-femminili-e-preservazione-della-fertilita-si-puo-fare-o-no/  

of Prevention and Treatment category 

The winner of the Prevention and Treatment category was Katharina Nickoleit from Germany, for her radio report on cancer in Africa. The piece explored the precarious health systems in African countries, covering issues of prevention, vaccination, availability of affordable medicines, a shortage of doctors and lack of diagnostic equipment while always focusing on human experience.

Katharina Nickoleit said: “I am very excited and feel honoured to receive this prize. The research in East Africa showed me once again how unfairly access to medical care is distributed globally. The fact that the European School of Oncology has awarded this important prize for a feature on the mostly neglected topic of cancer in Africa gives hope that this inequality might be overcome one day.” 

The report appeared on Deutschlandfunk Radio: https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/afrikas-krebsepidemie-der-groesste-killer.740.de.html?dram:article_id=469243

Winner of Research and Science category

The winner of the Research and Science category was Robin McKie from the UK, for his article in the Observer about the discovery of the BRCA2 cancer gene: “How race to track mystery gene with links to three cancers saved millions”. The judges thought this was a piece of compelling storytelling on a subject that still has significant ramifications for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. 

Robin McKie said: “I am honoured to receive this award and thrilled that the story of the discovery of the BRCA2 cancer gene has gained such recognition. I am indebted to the Institute of Cancer Research in London for providing me with invaluable help in researching my article and to the scientists involved. I am also very grateful to the patients whose lives have been touched by BRCA2 for their candour and trust.” 

The piece appeared in The Observer newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/10/how-race-to-track-mystery-gene-with-links-to-three-cancers-saved-millions

The judging panel

The judging panel for this year’s Award was: Simon Crompton, writer and scientific journalist; Dr Fedro Peccatori, ESO Scientific Director; Anne Preger, freelance journalist and winner of last year’s Award; Anna Wagstaff, Senior Associate Editor of Cancer World magazine


The Cancer Journalism Award is organized by ESO to recognize outstanding pieces of journalism published or broadcast that are changing the way we think about cancer. The Award encourages, celebrates and rewards journalists who deliver insights into the personal and social effects of the disease, and the impact of policy, practice and advocacy.

Annually ESO invites journalists to submit one or more items of their work – whether in print, online, on radio, video or television – into the following three categories:

  • Policy, services and affordability
  • Research and science
  • Prevention and treatment

In all categories, we are look for articles/programmes that move beyond documenting experience, science, policy and practice. We want to reward work that asks dofficult questions, increases awareness and prompts change. We are particularly looking for investigative stories. We expect that patient experience and perspectives will be reflected in all submissions, whatever the category.  

The Award is open to journalists working in the following regions:

  • Europe (including non EU countries)
  • Eastern Europe (including non EU countries)
  • Eurasia
  • Mediterranean area
  • Central and Latin America

A prize of €1500 is available for the winner in each category. The journalist judged the overall winner will receive an additional €500 bringing their prize total to €2000.


Applications for the 2021 Cancer Journalism Award have passed. Details on the next edition will be published shortly.


Application procedure

Please read the steps below carefully before applying:

Step 1:
You can submit up to three pieces of published work. For each piece of work you must select the relevant category:

  • Research and science
    We are looking for work that seriously assesses the value of new discoveries and developments rather than simply describing them
  • Policy, services and affordability
    We want accessible pieces that raise serious questions about cancer services and discuss possible answers
  • Prevention and treatment
    We are looking for pieces examining cancer causes, assessing risk reduction (including early detection) and exploring issues surrounding the risks and benefits of treatment.

Written articles should be saved in one of the following formats: a word doc, pdf or jpeg. If your article is available online you can insert a direct link on the application form instead of uploading a document.  

Work published on television, film, video and radio/podcast should be made available by providing a link to a website such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Step 2:
If your work is not in English you will be required to prepare a translation of the piece into English. You will need to upload this separately on to our system when you upload your piece of work. Entrants may use whichever method of translation they like, including Google Translate. The judges want to encourage entries from as many countries as possible, so will be sympathetic to translation difficulties. However, the translation must be of sufficient quality to allow a proper judgement of the work to be made.

Step 3:
Please prepare and save a statement (no more than 150 words) as to why your piece of work should receive a Cancer Journalism Award. This can be submitted either as a word doc. or pdf. You will be requested to upload a separate statement for each piece of work you submit.

Step 4:
Please download and complete the attached copyright form. You will be requested to upload a completed version of this form for each piece of work that you submit. We request this form because we would like to reprint winning articles in our print and online magazine Cancer World. If your piece of work is a radio/television broadcast you are not required to give us copyright but if you win the Award one of the Cancer World journalists will cover your winning piece as an article in Cancer World.

Step 5:
Once all these documents are ready you can start the application process. Please click on the ‘Apply Now’ button on the webpage and complete the personal details form first. You will then be required to upload your work and documents.

For more information please contact:

chall@eso.net or call Corinne Hall +39 02 85 4645 22

Cancer Journalism Award past winners

Past winners

2019 - 2020 Cancer Journalism Award winners

Overall winner and winner of Research, Science and Treatment category
Anne Preger  - WDR StoryQuarks podcast, Germany

Patient and Carer Experience category winner
Elijah Kanyi - Africa Uncensored YouTube channel, Kenya
Patrice Goldberg - Matière Grise, Belgium

Policy, Services and Affordability category winner
Myriam Vidal Valero, Rodrigo Pérez and Nelly Toche - New York Times - USA

2018 Cancer World Journalism Award winners

Overall winner & Policy, Services and Affordability category winner
Swagata Yadavar - IndiaSpend, India

Patient and Carer Experience category winner
Laure Andrillon - Slate magazine, France

Research, science and treatment category
Max Rauner - Zeit Wissen, Germany

Prevention category winner
Faiza Ilyas - Dawn, Pakistan

Special commendation
Hajar Harb - Gaza Post, Palestine

2016 Cancer World Journalism Award winners

Overall winner and Research, Science and Treatment category winner
Pia Heinemann - Welt Am Sonntag, Germany

Patient and Carer Experience category winner
Pauline Kairu - Daily Nation newspaper, Kenya

Policy, Services and Affordability category
Suman Naishadham - The Influence, India

Prevention category winner
Duanduan Yuan,Southern Weekly, China.

Special commendation
A special commendation was given to a group of entrants who had used funding from JournalismFund.eu (www.journalismfund.eu) to carry out an impressive cross-border investigation into why cancer patients in Eastern European countries often cannot afford the newest therapies and the role of the EU in setting the drug prices. These highly commended journalists are: Eric Breitinger (Switzerland), Aleksandra Jolkina (Latvia), Stanimir Vaglenov (Bulgaria), Cristian Niculescu (Romania), David Leloup (Belgium) and Dimitra Triantafillou (Greece).

Best Cancer Reporter Award

From 2006 to 2015 the Award was known as the Best Cancer Reporter Award

2015 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize: Matthew Hill, BBC, UK
2nd Prize: Patrice Goldberg, Matière Grise, Belgium

2014 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize: Steven Buist, Hamilton Spectator, Canada

Joint 2nd Prize:
Katrin Zoefel, Deutschlandfunk
Germany, Jason Gale, Bloomberg Markets, Australia

In addition, American journalist Clifton Leaf received a Best Cancer Reporter Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding contribution to cancer journalism.

2013 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

Joint 1st Prize:
Tiffany O'Callaghan, New Scientist, United Kingdom
Joanne Silberner, Freelance journalist, US

Joint 2nd Prize:
Cristiane Hawranek & Marco Maurer, Freelance journalists, Germany
Ainhoa Iriberri, Revista Salud, Spain

In addition, the judges also recognised the work of Ugandan journalist Esther Nakkazi and Zimbabwe-based journalist Busani Bafana. These two journalists highlighted the struggle faced in addressing cancer in low-income countries and the role of the media in spotlighting specific problems.

2012 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize: Bernhard Albrecht, Der Spiegel, Germany

2nd Prize: Clive Cookson, Financial Times, United Kingdom

In addition, British journalist Cassandra Jardine (Daily Telegraph) and British journalist Steve Connor (Independent) received a Special Merit Award certificate that recognises the excellence of their work.

2011 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

Joint 1st Prize:
Mark Henderson, The Times, United Kingdom
Victoria Lambert, Freelance journalist, United Kingdom

2nd Prize: Martina Keller, Freelance journalist, Germany

In addition, the work of Silja Paavle who writes for Öhtuleht, one of Estonia’s highest circulation daily newspapers, was highly commended by the judges.

2010 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize: Nicola Kuhrt, Die Zeit, Germany

2nd Prize: Mark Henderson, The Times, United Kingdom

Romanian journalist Paula Herlo received a special BCRA Campaigner Award in recognition of her campaigning work of Romania's Pro TV News.
In addition, Polish journalist Slawomir Zagorski who writes for Gazeta Wyborcza, received a Special Merit Award.

2009 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

Joint 1st Prize:

Margaret McCartney, Financial Times, United Kingdom
Linda Geddes, New Scientist, United Kingdom

2nd Prize: Rabiya Tuma, The Economist, US

In addition, Italian journalist Daniela Ovadia and Portuguese journalist Nelson Marques received a Special Merit Award.

2008 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize:
Simon Crompton, The Times, United Kingdom
2nd Prize: Ulrich Bahnsen, Die Zeit, Germany
3rd Prize: Päivi Repo, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland

2007 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize:
Pawel Walewski, Polityka, Poland

Joint 2nd Prize:

Maria Valerio Sainz, El Mundo, Spain
Linda Geddes, New Scientist, UK

In addition, Eric Baumann from the Tages-Anzeiger, Switzerland and Iva Shohova from the Prague Post, Czech Republic received a Special Merit Award in recognition of their willingness to write about their personal cancer experience in order to raise awareness about some of the difficulties faced by cancer patients as they progress through their cancer journey.

2006 - Best Cancer Reporter Award

1st Prize:
Sarah Boseley, the Guardian, UK

2nd Prize:
Catherine Kalamis, Guernsey Press, UK
Simon Crompton, The Times, UK

3rd Prize: Paul Benkimoun, Le Monde, France