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Pia Österlund

Specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy
M.D., P.h.D., Adj.Prof.

I treat all cancers at Docrates, but my particular interest is in abdominal cancers, i.e. cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, bile ducts, liver, pancreas, small intestine, colon, rectum and anus, as well as neuroendocrine tumors.

In addition to working with patients, I also work as a researcher. My research has focused on the development of cancer treatments, prognostic factors, the development of adverse reaction mechanisms and treatment methods, as well as nutrition. I pay a lot of attention to my patients’ quality of life during and after treatments.

During patient encounters, I want to create a confidential and calm atmosphere that focuses on the patient. You can also book an appointment with me if you think you may have cancer or you need cancer counselling. Loved ones are also welcome to attend the appointments.

Appointments can be booked from our customer service  tel. +358 10 773 2010.


Finnish, Swedish, English, Norwegian, German


Pedagogical Competence, University of Helsinki 2015
Specialist Management Competence, The Finnish Medical Association (FMA) 2014
Adjunct Professor in Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy, University of Helsinki 2014
M.D., Ph.D., University of Helsinki 2004
Specialist in Medical Oncology, University of Helsinki 2004
M.D., University of Helsinki 1993

Work history

  • Docrates Cancer Center, Specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy 2016-
  • Tampere University Hospital, Specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy 2016-
  • HUH Comprehensive Cancer Center, Head of Department, Specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy 2015-2016
  • University of Helsinki, University lecturer/HUH Department of Oncology, Specialist in Medical Oncology part-time 2008-2014
  • HUH Department of Oncology, Specialist in Medical Oncology/Specialising Physician 1996-2008

Memberships and positions of trust

ASCO (virtual faculty), ESMO (GI-faculty, global curriculum, nomination committee), ESDO, ESPEN, FISPEN, SLL, DUODECIM

Scientific activities

During her career as Oncologist Pia Österlund has been interested in the quality of life of cancer patients during treatments. Her research has focused on examining the mechanisms and treatment methods of side effects. Treatment development is also a special interest of Österlund’s. Österlund’s group also conducts research on nutrition and prognostic factors.


Pia Österlund’s expertise includes, among other things, the research and development of pharmacotherapy and the associated difficulties and potentials, especially in GI tract cancers, such as colorectal, oesophageal, stomach, pancreatic and liver cancers.

Prior to completing her doctoral thesis in 2004, Pia Österlund worked in the research group of Professor Inkeri Elomaa and Professor Heikki Joensuu at the Cancer Clinic of the Helsinki University Central Hospital. In particular, she researched how to improve the tolerability and effectiveness of pharmacotherapy by developing dosing. She has also innovatively studied the mechanisms of adverse effects and how adverse effects could be reduced. Especially in the area of intestinal adverse effects, the research is intensive. Diet affects the adverse effects through, for example, a transient mechanism of lactose intolerance caused by pharmacotherapy.

Österlund ended up working in oncology due to her partner’s work in England: the only available job was in oncology, which became her life’s work.

Pia Österlund qualified as a specialist at the Helsinki University Central Hospital’s Cancer Clinic in 2004 and also started her clinical research career there. She has worked at Docrates since 2016.

Österlund has gained experience in the pharmaceutical industry as an expert physician at several companies, such as Merck, Roche, Amgen, Sanofi, Zeneca, Baxter, Bayer, Nordic Drugs, etc.

In Österlund’s opinion, research into new medicines and treatments is particularly important. The most significant trials in which Österlund has been involved are:

  • the large Finnish RAXO trial (intervention study of metastatic colorectal cancer),
  • the AXOAXI trial (drug substitution trial for metastatic colorectal cancer),
  • the LIPSYT trial (development of adjuvant therapy for colorectal cancer),
  • the MEPSYT trial (development of treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer)
  • the FODMAP nutrition trial (a combination of preclinical and clinical research).

Pia Österlund has acted as Finland’s principal investigator in several international multicentre trials. Cooperation with the Nordic Biomoduleringsklubben has brought many fruitful trials to Finland through Pia Österlund’s activity. Pia Österlund wants Docrates Cancer Center to be both a successful research centre, especially in early-phase clinical trials, and a trusted and sought-after partner.

However, Österlund’s most important work is in patient encounters. For her, the most rewarding moment is when the patient feels that they have been helped. Sometimes this means being cured, but an improvement in symptoms or quality of life are also significant successes. Advances in research and cancer treatment also offer hope. Österlund is particularly moved by thanks given by the patient’s loved ones.

Her greatest source of strength in her work, which is sometimes very tough, is her own family – she has four children. As a counterbalance to her work, Österlund relaxes by doing horse riding and working on her cottage construction project.

Pia Österlund works as part of a multidisciplinary group, and dialogue with other specialists allows her to tailor the treatment to each patient individually. Through consultations, therapies can be combined in a more innovative way so that the treatment is more effective and as well-tolerated as possible.

In addition to daily treatment and research activities, Österlund gives plenty of presentations and lectures in Finland and abroad and writes articles.