Cancer represents a major health burden within the European Union comprising some 200 different diseases. 4.5 million people suffer from cancer , there are 1 .6 million new cases each year and 1 million die of the disease despite the considerable advances in prevention, early diagnosis and treatment. A major research deficiency which was identified at the meeting of the Cancer Forum (5 November 2001) was for the development of research in the behavioural and social sciences relevant to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Support is sought for a two stage consultation meeting to reach consensus on the most effective means to enhance research capacity and develop an integrated research strategy at the European level. These objectives will underpin the development of other initiatives being promoted by the Cancer Forum and will contribute to the establishment of the European Research Area.